Ilary Allodi & Changsi Cai

Assistant professor Ilary Allodi;  Rewriting the role of interneurons in Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis” 

Abstract: Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) is a fatal and incurable disorder characterized by the progressive degeneration of somatic motor neurons. Motor neurons are the final output of the brain since they directly connect to the muscles, but they are activated by a complex network of excitatory and inhibitory interneurons. Our recent findings showed, for the first time, that interneurons play a fundamental role in the initiation and progression of disease, since they lose connectivity with motor neurons already at pre-symptomatic stages. Loss of synaptic input leads to excitotoxicity, motor neuron degeneration and behavioral changes, which can be restored by stabilizing synaptic connectivity utilizing gene therapy approaches.

Assistant professor Changsi Cai; Visual prosthesis and brain capillary mechanism in ischemic stroke

Abstract: Brain activity induces rises in regional blood flow that feed oxygen and glucose to active nerve cells, a mechanism denoted neurovascular coupling (NVC). Understanding the mechanism of NVC is critical because insufficient blood supply is involved in the pathogenesis of many neurologic diseases including ischemic stroke. However, the precise cellular mechanism in NVC, the impairment and mitigation of failing vascular elements in ischemic stroke are unclear, particularly in capillaries. Our study focus on brain capillary mechanism in ischemic stroke. In our second project, micro-coils, a novel type of localized magnetic stimulation in central nervous system can be used as a tool for neuroprosthetics. We will implant micro-coils in mouse visual cortex, aiming at restore vision for the blinds.