Research Focus


Brain Aging

We are interested in understanding how and why the brain ages. In particular, we are interested in understanding how neural progenitor cells age, and the interplay between aging of the brain and decline in neurogenesis. We hypothesize that a decline in brain plasticity, and in neurogenesis in particular, contributes to compromised brain function. We think that the study of aging would enhance our understanding of aging-linked neurodegenerative disease, such as Alzheimer's disease.


Molecular Mechanisms of Neurodegenerative Disease

Neurodegenerative diseases are a diverse group of diseases of the nervous system, characterized by massive and progressive loss of neurons in specific brain areas. We focus our investigations on neurodegenerative disease of the elderly. In particular, we are interested in dementia, a family of diseases characterized by progressive loss of memory and cognitive decline. Alzheimer's disease is the most prevalent form of dementia. In addition we examine the molecular association between Down syndrome and Alzheimer's disease.

Stroke and Cerebrovascular disease

Stroke is the fourth most common cause of death in the United States and is the most common cause of adult disability worldwide. Currently, there are very limited treatment options for those affected by this debilitating disease process with only 4% to 7% of eligible patients actually receiving therapy. Loss of brain function and disability are the result of acute loss of neurons after ischemia, followed by a continuous secondary loss. Furthermore, natural brain repair mechanisms, such as neurogenesis, fail to promote recovery after stroke. We examine post-ischemia mechanisms in order to develop therapeutic approaches for the promotion of brain regeneration and functional recovery.



Neurogenesis in the adult brain persists throughout life, but declines with aging and is compromised in aging-linked neurodegenerative disease, such as Alzheimer's disease. Neurogenesis is implicated in different aspects of learning and memory, response to environmental stimuli, and in brain trauma and disease. We examine the processes that regulate neurogenesis in the adult healthy brain, and study how these processes are altered or impaired in aging and in Alzheimer's disease.


Stem Cells

Stem cells hold great promise when it comes to the treatment of neurodegenerative disease and other diseases of the human central nervous system. Our investigations are aimed at understanding fundamental processes regulating stem cell biology, and how they can serve the aging and diseased brain.


Lifestyle and Environmental Factors

Environmental factors, in addition to genes, are instrumental in the regulation of neurogenesis, brain aging and the development of brain disease, such as Alzheimer's disease. Using a variety of molecular and cellular approaches, our investigations are aimed at understanding the effect of lifestyle and related diseases, such as Type 2 Diabetes, on brain structure, function and pathology.

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