Dr. Jang and her colleagues utilize concepts and techniques in molecular biology, biochemistry, genetics, behavioral neuroscience and high-resolution imaging to gain a deeper understanding of the functional role of adult neurogenesis and successfully translate this knowledge to clinical application.
Adult neurogenesis is the process of generating new neurons from neural stem cells. In the mammalian brain, it continues to occur well into adulthood in discrete regions, namely the hippocampus and olfactory bulb. Our group focuses on adult hippocampal neurogenesis that plays significant roles in regeneration, memory and mood regulation.
Dr. Jang's areas of research interest include:
- Adult neurogenesis and its regulation. Dr. Jang and her colleagues are studying this intricate process from the point a neural stem cell is activated to the consequent proliferation, differentiation, maturation and functional integration into the circuit. To this end, we are investigating susceptibility genes and signaling mechanisms that regulate these multiple phases.
- Disease pathogenesis and adult neurogenesis. Evidence has indicated a potential role of adult neurogenesis in the etiology of neurodevelopmental disorders. We are exploring this relationship through approaches in behavioral neuroscience to quantify anxiety, memory and learning, and how such cognitive function may be affected by adult neurogenesis.
- Therapeutic application. Adult neurogenesis has ramifications in the field of regenerative medicine where we could dictate neuronal development toward therapeutic application. We are characterizing a system of physiological and pathological stimulation, and utilizing clinically-approved medication to better understand this process toward developing improved medication to treat neurological disorders.
Significant to Patient Care
Dr. Jang's research is making essential connections between adult hippocampal neurogenesis and its functional role in the etiology and pathophysiology of neurodevelopmental and neurodegenerative disorders. As such, the laboratory focuses on understanding pathological conditions including epileptic seizure, Alzheimer's disease, and bipolar disorders through its varied projects. This focus starts at the level of the molecular and cellular mechanisms involved and extends into investigating the resulting cognitive deficits of a disorder. This also includes incorporating clinically-approved medication into our investigative process so we obtain crucial knowledge that helps development of improved medication for treatment.