About the Lab

The research of Dr. Bu's Neurobiology of Alzheimer's Disease Lab is centered on understanding why a specific allele of the apolipoprotein e4 gene, (APOE e4), represents a strong risk factor for Alzheimer's disease (AD). Specifically, Dr. Bu's lab focuses on dissecting the biological and pathological functions of APOE and APOE receptors, the low-density lipoprotein receptor-related protein 1 (LRP1) and heparan sulfate proteoglycans (HSPG) with particular emphasis on their roles in the pathogenesis of AD and related dementias. The ultimate goal of this work is to develop novel methods to diagnose and treat AD.

The lab utilizes genetically altered mice, including conditional knockout, knock-in and transgenic mouse models, to study the functions of APOE and APOE receptors in brain lipid metabolism, signal transduction, synaptic plasticity, neuronal viability and memory. In understanding the effects of APOE isoforms and APOE receptors in AD, the studies focus on understanding the pathways and mechanisms of amyloid-beta clearance within the brain parenchyma and along the cerebrovasculature. Several new mouse models have been developed in the lab to uncover APOE isoform-specific effects in an age-dependent manner in different brain cell types and to further determine how APOE receptors modulate these events.

Dr. Bu also leads the Neuroregeneration Lab at Mayo Clinic's campus in Florida. Through collaboration with clinical colleagues, skin biopsies are collected from patients with various neurological disorders, some with rare gene mutations or risk gene alleles. The resulting fibroblasts are banked and also used for reprogramming into induced-pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) that can be further differentiated into a myriad of central nervous system (CNS) cell types. These human cells are an important, unique way in which Dr. Bu's lab is studying the cellular mechanisms of brain disorders, addressing human relevance and developing future replacement therapy.

The Neurobiology of Alzheimer's Disease Lab collaborates with several labs within the Department of Neuroscience at Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville, Florida, and within the Mayo Clinic Alzheimer's Disease Research Center, which spans Mayo Clinic's campuses in Rochester, Minnesota, and Jacksonville, Florida. Dr. Bu serves as associate director of the Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center (ADRC). Dr. Bu's lab also collaborates with numerous labs around the world and helps to train next generation of scientists at the undergraduate, graduate and postdoctoral levels.

The research of Dr. Bu's lab is funded by the National Institutes of Health, the Alzheimer's Association, the BrightFocus Foundation, Cure Alzheimer's Fund, Mayo Clinic ADRC and Mayo Clinic Center for Regenerative Medicine.