(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.
Celebrate homecoming as the Roadrunners take on Rice. Come early for the Spirit Walk, tailgating, games, music and food. Stick around for a halftime show with SOSA and the crowning of Mr. and Ms. UTSA.Alamodome, 100 Montana St., Downtown San Antonio
The Leadership Storytelling Homecoming Brunch brings together UTSA alumni and students to share a delicious meal as well as a roundtable conversation about how experiences in college carry us forward on unique leadership journeys.University Center, Denman Room (UC 2.01.28), Main Campus
The conference is dedicated to sharing recent knowledge and experiences gained in the area of Big Data by researchers in academia, industry and the government sectors within the areas of business, national security, infrastructure, healthcare and visualization.H-E-B University Center Ballroom (HUC 1.104), Main Campus
Former National Security Advisor Susan Rice, via webcast, will examine America’s economic, political and security relations with China during CHINA Town Hall, an 80-city live discussion and Q&A on China and Sino-American relations.Building Building, Richard Liu Auditorium (BB 2.01.02), Main Campus
The African American Studies program proudly presents William "Cruz" Shaw, San Antonio City Councilman and UTSA Alumnus. Event is free and open to the public.University Center, Retama Auditorium (UC 2.02.02), Main Campus
The graduate fair is an opportunity for the UTSA student body and local San Antonio community to learn about graduate education opportunities. The event is free and open to the public.H-E-B University Center Ballroom (1.104), Main Campus
President Taylor Eighmy is inviting all UTSA students to "Pizza With The Prez." Come grab a slice of pizza and take the opportunity to introduce yourself to the President. Pizza while supplies last.Frio Street Building, Food Court Commons Area, Downtown Campus
President Taylor Eighmy is inviting all UTSA faculty and staff to "Tacos With Taylor." Take the opportunity to introduce yourself to the President at any one of these casual meet and greets.Biotechnology, Science and Engineering Building atrium, Main Campus
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