Assistant Professor of Pharmacology
M.D., Binzhou Medical College (China)
Ph.D., Washington State University
Neurodegeneration, Neuroprotection, Parkinson's disease, leptin, Attractin
My current research interest focuses on the molecular mechanisms of neurodegenerative diseases, such as Parkinson's disease (PD), and the development of neuroprotective strategies for slowing down the disease progression. Parkinson's disease is characterized by progressive and selective loss of dopaminergic neurons in the substantia nigra (SN) pars compacta and subsequent striatal dopamine depletion causing ridigity, tremor, bradykinesia and postural imbalance. The cause of PD remains largely unknown. Many genetic factors have been identified to be responsible for the familial forms of these disorders. However, the majority of these disorders are sporadic with unknown causes, possibly involving multiple genetic and other factors, in which environment and aging play major roles. With the advances of our understanding of the pathogenesis of PD, varieties of potential neuroprotective strategies including anti-oxidant, anti-apoptotic drugs, anti-inflammatory drugs and others are being studied or evaluated. We are investigating the functions of gene products, such as attractin (Atrn), Mahogunin (Mgrn1), and leptin, in protecting dopaminergic neurons from progressive degeneration using both chemical-induced and genetic PD animal models.