(July 31, 2017) -- Hyoung-gon Lee, the John H. Doran Distinguished Professor in Peripheral Neuropathy at The University of Texas at San Antonio (UTSA), is pursuing a new frontier in Alzheimer’s disease research.
Lee’s Alzheimer’s work has mainly been focused on understanding how brain cells degenerate during the disease. His current work suggests that there may be a new way forward in preventing and treating the illness.
“Once a neuron is born in the brain, division stops,” Lee said. “That’s a unique characteristic of neurons. Other types of cells regenerate after they’re damaged, but when neurons die, we’ve lost them.”
This is one of the reasons why Alzheimer’s and other neurodegenerative diseases have such disastrous effects on the health of the human brain. The neurons, once damaged by the disease, are unable to heal themselves.
Lee’s recent research, however, suggests that the neurons in an Alzheimer’s brain attempt to divide before they die. He’s now working to understand why.
“In normal, healthy neurons, the capability to divide is not active at all,” he said. “A normal brain cell has no cell cycle activity, but in Alzheimer’s-affected brains, it looks as if neurons are trying to divide.”
“It’s paradoxical,” he added. “But it could be the key to solving a great medical mystery. Knowing more about Alzheimer’s disease will make it much easier to fight it because we’ll have a better understanding of the specific cause.”
Lee and his laboratory are now developing an animal model to take a closer look at neuron death in Alzheimer’s-affected brains.
Lee’s laboratory is just one of several dozen at the university specializing in brain health, an extensive initiative that includes research in neurodegenerative disease, traumatic brain injury, regenerative medicine, stem cell therapies, medicinal chemistry, neuroinflammation and drug design.
This work is conducted across five top-tier UTSA research centers, including the UTSA Neurosciences Institute, the San Antonio Cellular Therapeutics Institute, the South Texas Center for Emerging Infectious Diseases, the Center for Innovative Drug Discovery and the Institute for Health Disparities Research.
Leading the brain health revolution is one of UT System Chancellor William McRaven’s “Quantum Leap” initiatives to provide the citizens of Texas the very best in higher education, research and health care. Chancellor McRaven has worked to make unprecedented investments in leveraging and connecting all the cutting edge science ongoing at UT institutions to drive collaboration and expand research efforts in brain health to meet a growing demand.
UTSA is ranked among the top 400 universities in the world and among the top 100 in the nation, according to Times Higher Education.
Langston Clark, UTSA assistant professor in the Department of Kinesiology, Health, and Nutrition will discuss exploring the historical context for the role of black athletes in contemporary social movements.John Peace Library, Assembly Room (JPL 4.04.22), Main Campus
The UTSA African American Studies program invites speakers from the leading African American Fraternities and Sororities for a panel discussion of the history of each organization and to enlighten the audience about the community service, academic purpose, professionalism and ethical roots of each group.Student Union, Mesquite Room (SU 2.01.24), Main Campus
MuTe Fest is a celebration of original music and technology. Three days of concerts, sessions, and informative lectures will offer a unique experience of musical works created by fellow UTSA students and the chance to gain valuable knowledge about music technology.Art Building, Music Tech Lab (Arts 3.01.30B), Main Campus
UTSA Libraries hosts Assistant Professor Ian Caine for his lecture, Architectural Postcards from Space, as part of the popular Pizza + Research series. Pizza will be served while supplies last.Buena Vista Street Building (BVB 2.304), Downtown Campus
The theme of this year’s symposium is Black & Brown Futures. The free event will give UTSA students and the community the opportunity to meet and hear national scholars talk about current research and academic trends relevant to the lives of African Americans in the United States.Student Union, Denman Room (SU 2.01.28), Main Campus
Registration is open now for this family-friendly and dog-friendly run that supports the UTSA Alumni Association scholarship fund.Convocation Center, Main Campus
Join the Department of Interdisciplinary Learning and Teaching for the 14th Annual UTSA Storytelling Festival featuring Nancy Simpson, storyteller and keynote speaker. The event is free and open to the public.Main Building, Ground Floor Lobby, Main Campus
Students are invited to a semi-formal, dinner banquet with an awards presentation and dancing. Keynote speaker will be San Antonio City Councilman William Cruz Shaw. Tickets must be purchased by Feb 19 at Roadrunner Express. UTSA students are $15 and guests are $20.H-E-B Student Union Ballroom (HSU 1.104/1/106), Main Campus