I took my BSc (Biology) degree at The Hong Kong University of Science and Technology and an M. Phil degree (Molecular Endocrinology) at the University of Hong Kong. In 2005, I obtained my D. Phil degree from Oxford majoring in Neuroscience. I have a keen interest in understanding the nervous system repair after damage. My thesis has been examining how factors made by Schwann cells can promote CNS and PNS regeneration. In 2005, I joined Dr. Woolf’s lab as a research fellow.
My major research interest is to look at the neuroplasticity of sensory neurons after nerve injury. To elucidate the molecular mechanism of sensory neurons survival, regeneration and functional recovery after nerve injury. I am also interested in looking at the mechanism responsible for neuropathic pain. Expression profile studies from our group revealed that the heat shock protein 27 (Hsp27) is highly up-regulated after peripheral nerve (PN) injury (Costigan et al., J. Neurosci. 1998). Hsp27 is a chaperone protein which acts to protect cells from insults such as heat stress, oxidative stress and ischemia. Stress results in protein misfolding and aggregation and Hsp27 facilitate the refolding of misfolded protein into active conformations to maintain protein homeostasis. In adult rats the Hsp27 is induced and phosphorylated in all injured sensory and motor neurons after a PN lesion and all the injured neurons survive the lesion. In the newborn rat, however, Hsp27 increases in only a small number of motor neurons. Those neurons that express Hsp27 survive, while all the other injured neuron die. Hsp27 is an essential survival factor for sensory and motor neurons that prevent the activation of apoptosis by binding to cytoplasmic cytochrome c (Benn et al., Neuron. 2002). I have generated several lines of Hsp27 overexpressing mice and studied their survival, regeneration and functional recovery after PN injury.
*C. H. Ma, E.T.W. Bampton, M.J. Evans, J. S. H. Taylor. (2010). Synergistic effects of osteonectin and neurotrophic factors on promotion of retinal ganglion cell survival and regeneration through AKT and MAP kinase activation. Neuroscience 165, 463-474.
*C. H. Ma and J. S. H. Taylor. (2010). Neurotrophic factors requirements for postnatal and aging retinal ganglia cell. Cell Tissue Res. 339, 297-310.
*C. H. Ma, A. Palmer and J. S. H. Taylor. (2009). Osteonectin, a Schwann cell secreted factor that promotes regeneration of mouse superior cervical ganglion neurons. Brain Research 1289, 1-13.
R. S. Griffin, M. Costigan, G. J. Brenner, C. H. Ma, J. Scholz, A. Moss, A. J. Allchorne, G. L. Stahl and C. J. Woolf. (2007). Complement induction in spinal cord microglia results in anaphylatoxin C5a mediated pain hypersensitivity. J. Neuroscience 27, 8699-8708.
E. T. W. Bampton, C. H. Ma, A. M. Tolkovsky and J. S. H. Taylor. (2005). Osteonectin is a Schwann cell secreted factor that promotes retinal ganglion cell survival and process outgrowth. Eur. J. Neurosci. 21, 2611-2623.