Graduate Training in Neuroscience
University of Washington
Philip J. Horner
Professor, Department of Neurological Surgery; Institute for Stem Cell & Regenerative Medicine
My laboratory focuses on regeneration in the adult Central Nervous System (CNS). We utilize stem cell and gene therapy technologies to study the process of cell replacement and axonal regeneration. The recent discovery of stem cells in the adult CNS has led to renewed hope for repair of debilitating neurological disorders. It is now accepted that stem cells routinely replace glia and even neurons in specific regions of the brain throughout life. These observations have led to an exciting new perspective on brain plasticity but there is much to be discovered. The process of cell replacement is tightly regulated by endogenous signals that direct cell proliferation, migration and differentiation. My lab is actively engaged in discovering the factors that regulate these processes.
We utilize cellular and molecular techniques to study stem cells and their progeny in the intact and injured CNS. My lab has discovered a proliferative cell population in the adult spinal cord that retains the capacity to differentiate into all of the major cell sub-types of the mature CNS; neurons, astrocytes and oligodendrocytes. Confocal microscopy and time-lapse imaging are being used to track these cells, labeled with retroviruses, in the intact and injured brain. Retrovirally labeled cells can be sorted by FACS, studied in vitro or transplanted back into the CNS.
Other projects in my lab include the discovery and experimental delivery of growth factors that regulate axon regeneration and myelination in models of spinal cord trauma, demyelinating disorders and retinal degeneration.