Project ListNeuronal transport: A variety of structural, nutritional, and signaling cargoes are transported within long, narrow axonal projections along microtubule tracks via molecular motors. We use experimental and computational methods to study this complex, highly regulated transport process as it relates to neuronal growth and neurodegeneration.
Cargo transport biophysics: Cargoes that are transported in the neuron vary in size, shape, and the configuration of motor proteins to which they are attached. Additionally, they are transported in a variety of fluid mechanical environments. We use biochemical, biophysical, and imaging methods to understand how these factors influence the transport of cargoes on microtubule tracks.
Adhesion and transport during neuronal regeneration: Adhesion of a neuron to its substrate and the material properties of this substrate are important determinants of the growth rate of a neuron. Additionally, the growth rate depends on the supply of materials to the growing axon via transport. We are studying the interplay of these fundamental cellular processes during neuronal growth and regeneration. (Collaboration with Dr. Helim Aranda-Espinoza)
Detection and repair of neuronal transport defects: We are developing nanoparticle-based methods that exploit the neuronal transport machinery for targeted intraneuronal delivery of diagnostic and therapeutic nano-packets. (Collaboration with Dr. Sheryl Ehrman and Neocera, LLC.)
Peripheral Nerve Biomechanics, Injury, and Repair: Peripheral neurons respond to the movement of joints by sliding (excursion) and stretching. We investigate changes in the biomechanical environment of peripheral nerves in a variety of contexts, including degeneration, nerve electrode implantation (Collaboration with Dr. Victor Krauthamer, FDA), and peripheral neuropathies. We are also examining the role of tensile loading in nerve regeneration strategies (Collaboration with Dr. John Fisher).
Mechanical loading of neurons: The central and peripheral nervous systems are mechanically loaded during growth, as well as during a variety of physiological, surgical, and pathological conditions. We study mechanisms of nervous system remodeling at the tissue and cell level in response to mechanical loading, motivated by applications in nerve regeneration and neurodegeneration.
Oxidative Stress and the Cytoskeleton: Oxidative stress causes rapid remodeling of cultured neurons, in the form of axonal retraction, axonal swellings, or blebbing. We are studying the roles of actin and microtubule filaments in guiding these responses.
Amyloid in Alzheimer's Disease: Alzheimer's Disease (AD) is characterized by the deposition of amyloid within the brain as well as around the surrounding vasculature. We use experimental methods to study the influence of amyloid on cell biological and biophysical properties of neurons.
Intermediate filaments in skeletal muscle: We use biomechanical and image processing methods to study the role of intermediate filaments in skeletal muscle organization and force transmission. (Collaboration with the laboratories of Dr. Richard Lieber and Dr. Robert Bloch.)DAIEngineering, 11 January 2011