Researcher | Research Overview
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Restoring lost function after spinal cord injury or other types of CNS injuries is one of the major challenges of contemporary neuroscience. Functional deficits after such injuries are primarily due to a disruption of axonal connections. Thus, to restore motor function after injury, what is needed is regeneration of the severed axons of long fiber tracts in order to re-establish the disrupted connections.
In order to repair the damaged supraspinal tracts, the injured neurons first need to recover the capacity for intrinsic growth, initiating regenerative growth. Sufficient numbers of regenerating axons then have to cross the lesion site and remake functional synapses with neurons in the caudal spinal cord. Our recent studies have led to the development of novel and effective genetic methods (deletion of PTEN and/or S0CS3) for re-activating neuronal regenerative capacity and thereby allowing for robust regenerative growth after injury, representing a major achievement in the first step of neural repair.
We are now poised to tackle the remaining major challenges: How do regenerating axons find the correct pathways to reach their functional targets? Are the regenerating axons able to form functional synapses? To what extent could functional recovery be restored by such regeneration-based approaches? Could other strategies, such as task-specific training, enhance functional recovery after both optic nerve injury and spinal cord injury? We expect that answering these questions will establish important principles for exploiting regenerative medicine for treating CNS injury and other neurological diseases.
Researcher | Research Background
Zhigang He received his PhD from the University of Toronto and was a postdoctoral fellow with Marc Tessier-Lavigne at the University of California, San Francisco. He has the honor of being named a Klingenstein Fellow in Neuroscience, a John Merck Scholar and a McKnight Scholar. In 2019 Dr. He received the Reeve-Irvine Research Medal.
Dr. He is the director of the Boston Children’s Hospital Viral Core, which aims to provide technological resources to academic investigators interested in the development and use of viral based vectors. The Boston Children’s Hospital Viral Core aims to provide technological resources to academic investigators interested in the development and use of viral based vectors. Currently, we offer custom lentiviral vector production, custom AAV vector production with a variety of serotypes and aliquots of in-stock vector. The Viral Core is located on the 13th floor of the Center for Life Science building.