Department of Neuroscience
Degrees: Tongji Medical College, China and Friedrich-Schiller-University Jena, Germany
Postdoctoral Training: Albany Medical College, Dr. Harold K. Kimelberg
Phone: (614) 366-9406
Lab: (614)366-9409 or, 366-9410
Fax: (614) 688-8742
Astrocyte is the most populous cell type in the brain. Our research centers on the functional role of astrocyte ion channels, gap junctions, receptors, transporters and Na+-K+-ATPase in physiological brain and neurological disorders, such as stroke and Alzheimer’s disease.
Astrocytes establish the largest syncytial networks in the brain through conduit proteins, termed gap junctions. Our recent discovery shows that an extensive cell-to-cell gap junction coupling enables astrocytes to function effectively as a team in critical functions, such as brain homeostasis. A new research direction emerging from this discovery aims at the novel functions that are achieved at astrocytic syncytial network levels.
- An electrically low cell-to-cell resistance is a prerequisite for astrocytes to function as a system. Our research aims at the anatomic basis and biophysical understanding of how a low interastrocytic resistance is evolved in developing brain and maintained throughout the adulthood.
- Our research considers that the functional proteins on the membrane of individual astrocytes, such as ion channels, receptors, transporters and Na+-K+ ATPase, are shared properties of a network system. We are studying how change in each of these functional properties affects the entire function of network system.
- Our research considers an astrocyte network, but not a single astrocyte, as an integral of neural circuit. We are exploring regulatory mechanisms that enable an astrocytic network and its associated neural circuits function as interactive components in basic and advanced brain functions.
- Our research considers a dysfunctional astrocytic syncytium is etiologically lined to various brain disorders. We are examining when and how an anatomically and functionally disrupted astrocytic network is associated with various progressive stages of brain disorders, such as stroke, epilepsy and Alzheimer’s disease.
Our lab uses a variety of techniques to study the morphology and function of astrocytes, NG2 glia, and neurons in the brain. Current projects include the use of the following preparations and techniques: acute brain slices, freshly dissociated brain tissues and single cells, confocal microscopy, Leica deconvoluion microscopy, serial scanning EM, CLARITY, immunocytochemisty, RT-PCR, Western blots, ion sensitive dye imaging, LTP paradigm, single and dual patch clamp analysis. Our lab also uses transgenic and gene knockout mice to understand the structure and function of astrocytes.