Larry Benowitz, PhD
F.M. Kirby Neurobiology Center
Director, Laboratories for Neuroscience
Research in Neurosurgery
|Academic Title||Professor of surgery and ophthalmology|
|Phone||617 919 2278|
|Fax||617 919 2380|
300 Longwood Avenue
Boston MA 02115
Under normal circumstances, neurons in the mature central nervous system (CNS: brain, spinal cord, eye) cannot re-establish their connections after injury, nor can intact cells grow new connections to compensate for those that have been lost. As a result of this, victims of traumatic injury, stroke or neurodegenerative diseases can suffer permanent and often devastating losses in movement, sensation, bodily functions, and thinking. The goals of the Benowitz lab are to discover the basic mechanisms that control the growth of nerve connections and to apply insights from this work to promote regeneration and functional recovery after CNS injury.
Current projects focus on:
- Optic nerve regeneration: research on the molecular signals that enable the projection neurons of the eye (retinal ganglion cells) to regrow their connections through the optic nerve.
- Stroke and spinal cord injury: methods to enhance the rewiring of brain connections and improve functional outcome after stroke or spinal cord injury.
- Inosine and cell signaling pathways: the small, naturally occurring molecule, inosine, stimulates certain types of nerve cells to extend nerve fibers in cell culture and in vivo. Inosine appears to stimulate a cell signaling pathway that controls the expression of a group of genes required for axon growth.
About Larry Benowitz
Larry Benowitz received his PhD in Biology from CalTech and completed fellowships at CalTech, MIT, and Harvard Medical School. He joined the faculty of Harvard Medical School in 1979, where he is currently a Professor of Surgery and Director of the Laboratories for Neuroscience Research in Neurosurgery at Children's Hospital.
At Children's Hospital, he serves on the Research Faculty Council, the Surgical Research Council, and chairs the Steering Committee for Animal Resources (ARCH). At Harvard Med School, he is the Co-chair of the Committee on Awards and Honors and has taught in a number of courses. Extramurally, he serves on the review boards of the Journal of Neuroscience and the Journal of Neurosurgery and has served on review committees for the NIH and private foundations.
He has been invited to speak at many research centers and symposia, including most recently the University of Southern California/UCLA/UC Irvine workshop on Plasticity and Repair in Neurodegenerative Disorders, Williams College, The Wadsworth Center/SUNY Albany, the University of Massachusetts Medical Center, Northwestern Univ. Med. Ctr., an NIH Roadmap Workshop on Transforming Regenerative Medicine, the American Academy of Neurology Symposium on the "Future of Neuroscience", the Wings for Life Spinal Cord Research Foundation Symposium (Salzburg, Austria), the Symposium on Development and Plasticity of the Nervous System at the University of Rio de Janeiro (Brazil), the Lasker/IRRF Initiative for Innovation in Vision Research, and at the Burke Institute/Cornell Medical Center. His research has been reported in the international media and has received television coverage on CBS, CNN and the BBC.
- Kurimoto T, Yin Y, Omura K, Gilbert H-Y, Kim D, Cen L-P, Moko L, Kugler S, and Benowitz LI. Long-distance axon regeneration in the mature optic nerve: Contributions of Oncomodulin, cAMP, and pten gene deletion J Neurosci 2010 Nov 17;30(46):15654-63.
- Benowitz LI and Yin Y. Optic nerve regeneration. Arch Ophthalmol 2010; 128:1059-64 (invited review).
- Benowitz LI, Carmichael ST. Promoting axonal rewiring to improve outcome after stroke. Neurobiol Dis 2010 Feb; 37(2):259-66.
- Yin Y, Cui Q, Gilbert HY, Yang Y, Yang Z, Berlinicke C, Li Z, Zaverucha-do-Valle C, He H, Petkova V, Zack DJ, Benowitz LI. Oncomodulin links inflammation to optic nerve regeneration. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 2009 Nov 17; 106(46):19587-92.
- Lorber B, Howe ML, Benowitz LI, Irwin N. Mst3b, an Ste20-like kinase, regulates axon regeneration in mature CNS and PNS pathways. Nat Neurosci 2009 Nov; 12(11):1407-14.
- Zai L, Ferrari C, Subbaiah S, Havton LA, Coppola G, Strittmatter S, Irwin N, Geschwind D, Benowitz LI. Inosine alters gene expression and axonal projections in neurons contralateral to a cortical infarct and improves skilled use of the impaired limb. J Neurosci 2009 Jun 24; 29(25):8187-97.
- Seijffers R and Benowitz LI. Intrinsic Determinants of Axon Regeneration. In CNS Regeneration: Basic Science and Clinical Advances. Kordower J and Tuszynski M, Eds. 2008; 2nd ed., Ch. 1, pp. 2-41. New York: Academic Press/Elsevier.
- Nakazawa T, Nakazawa C, Matsubara A, Noda K, Hisatomi T, She H, Michaud N, Hafezi-Moghadam A, Miller JW, Benowitz LI. Tumor necrosis factor-alpha mediates oligodendrocyte death and delayed retinal ganglion cell loss in a mouse model of glaucoma. J Neurosci 2006 Dec 6; 26(49):12633-41.
- Yin Y, Henzl MT, Lorber B, Nakazawa T, Thomas TT, Jiang F, Langer R, Benowitz LI. Oncomodulin is a macrophage-derived signal for axon regeneration in retinal ganglion cells. Nat Neurosci 2006 Jun; 9(6):843-52.
For a complete list of Larry Benowitz's publications, click here.