Disease pathogenesis and adult neurogenesis

Evidence indicates a potential role of adult neurogenesis in the etiology of neurodevelopmental disorders. The Neurogenesis and Brain Repair Lab at Mayo Clinic is exploring this relationship through approaches in behavioral neuroscience to quantify learning and memory and better understand how cognitive function may be affected by adult neurogenesis.

An understanding of the connection between adult neurogenesis and neurodevelopmental disorders will provide insight into novel therapeutic interventions, effectively targeting a wide range of neurological disorders associated with cognitive impairments.

Identifying a novel molecular target for improving cognitive deficits associated with neurodegenerative disorders

The central goal of this project in Dr. Jang's lab is to determine the intrinsic or extrinsic molecular factors that promote neural stem cell activation and subsequent neurogenesis, providing potential targets for effective therapeutic strategies.

Aging is the greatest risk factor for neurodegenerative disorders with cognitive deficit. The discovery of neural stem cells and ongoing neurogenesis in adulthood brings the hope of brain rejuvenation. Neural stem cells can exist in either active or quiescent states. However, while aged hippocampi preserve neural stem cells, the cells shift into a quiescent state, contributing to age-related reduction in hippocampal neurogenesis and thereby memory decline.

Investigating molecular mechanisms regulating myelination and myelin repair

Appropriate myelin formation is critical for early brain development. Defects in this process are linked to disorders such as leukodystrophies and multiple sclerosis. While critical to brain development and myelin pathology, the underlying mechanisms mediating myelination remain incompletely understood.

Specifically, while myelination is accomplished by oligodendrocytes derived from oligodendrocyte progenitor cells, the mechanisms regulating their generation remain elusive.

Therefore, the lab aims to identify the molecular pathway regulating oligodendrocyte generation involved in myelin production, providing potential targets for effective therapeutic strategies for a broad spectrum of myelin-related disorders.