Philip J. Horner PhD
University of Washington
This lab is focused on neural regeneration in models of spinal cord injury and glaucoma. The Horner Lab approaches the problem of regeneration by studying the biology of adult stem cells which reside in the human brain and spinal cord. In 2000, the Horner lab was the first to demonstrate that adult stem cells routinely replace supportive glia in the spinal cord throughout life.
The discovery of adult stem cells has led to an exciting new perspective on brain plasticity and offers hope that activating or transplanting stem cells is a viable concept to replace or repair lost circuitry in the mature nervous system. The Horner Lab has isolated adult stem cells from adult rodent and human brain and genetically marked these cells for observing them in the setting of neural injury or degenerative disease. The Horner lab has shown that components of the blood can negatively impact the ability of the adult stem cell to repair the spinal cord. Blocking blood proteins may be a viable approach to promoting recovery from spinal cord injury.
Another key method to stimulating nerve cell replacement will entail turning on genes in adult stem cells that are normally found in the developing spinal cord. This approach is being spearheaded through collaboration with the Moon lab.