My research interests focus on developing clinically relevant approaches that would help restore brain functions in cerebral ischemia, Alzheimer’s disease, and traumatic brain injury. During the time I worked at Buck Institute, I dealt with a wide range of subjects related to cerebral ischemia. These included the effects of ablating neuronal stem cells, of sectioning the corpus callosum, and of superimposing a contralateral cerebral lesion on stroke outcome.
At UNTHSC, I have been focusing on investigating the therapeutic effects on cerebral ischemia of a novel class of compounds, positive allosteric modulators (PAMs) of α7 nicotinic acetylcholine receptors (α7-nAChRs). My findings that injury-elevated endogenous choline enhanced by α7-PAMs augments brain resistance to ischemia thus holds a significant therapeutic promise and can be combined with long-term bioengineering approaches utilizing stem cells and various rehabilitation programs. These intriguing and potentially clinically-relevant results provide an important conceptual support and guidance to developing novel therapeutic interventions against cerebral ischemia.