Research Priority Area
How to Join
Please contact Dr. George Quintero with your interest. We welcome individuals with an interest in repairing the nervous system.
The human body has enormous healing powers. Yet damage to nerve cells caused by accident or neurodegenerative disorders such as Parkinson’s disease might lead to irreversible scarring and even death of the cells, resulting in permanent weakness and difficulty in moving limbs.
With the support of the University of Kentucky College of Medicine’s Alliance Research Initiative, the Brain Restoration Center (BRC) will investigate a process to heal damaged nerve cells. The team’s research will focus on the Schwann cells that surround all nerve fibers in the peripheral nervous system (outside the brain and the spinal cord) and form myelin sheaths around the nerve fibers to protect them. Schwann cells support the repair and growth of damaged axons. There is a possibility that Schwann cell activity could be used to repair damaged nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord.
The lead principal investigator of the BRC is Craig van Horne, MD, professor in the department of neurosurgery. Dr. van Horne is a nationally and internationally recognized expert in neurosurgery, specializing in the diagnosis and treatment of movement disorders. His research focuses on innovative surgical treatment strategies for Parkinson’s disease.
Randal Voss, PhD, professor in the department of neuroscience, brings regenerative biology expertise to the alliance. He uses genetic, genomic, and developmental approaches to discover how salamanders regenerate whole organs, including their limbs and spinal cord. He also brings expertise in changes in cellular phenotypes, including Schwann cells, the focus of BRC research. Dr. van Horne and Greg Gerhardt, PhD, professor in the department of neuroscience, are engaged in translational and clinical research projects and trials focusing on neurodegenerative disorders. Both have studied using the regenerative properties of Schwann cells as a form of therapy for injured regions of the central nervous system.
The BRC will form an alliance between the two laboratories currently studying nerve regeneration. The Gerhardt and van Horne labs study peripheral nerve grafts containing repair Schwann cells to treat Parkinson’s disease. The Voss lab is researching limb regeneration in the axolotl, a variety of salamander. Researchers in both labs plan to collaborate on Schwann cell activity and nerve regeneration with the overall goal of repairing damage in brains of people with Parkinson’s disease.
- Nour Al Haj Baddar, PhD – Post-doc, Department of Neuroscience
- Tarek Ali, MD, Fellow – Department of Neurology
- Monica Chau, PhD, Assistant Professor – Department of Neurosurgery
- Varun Dwaraka, PhD Candidate – College of Arts and Sciences
- Riham El Khouli, MD, PhD, Assistant Professor – Department of Radiology
- Geetanjali Gera, PhD, PT, Assistant Professor – College of Health Sciences
- Greg Gerhardt, PhD, Professor – Department of Neuroscience
- Zain Guduru, MD, Assistant Professor – Department of Neurology
- Julie Gurwell, PhD, Associate Professor – Department of Neurology
- Craig van Horne, MD, PhD, Professor – Department of Neurosurgery
- Lisa Koehl, PhD, Assistant Professor – Department of Neurology
- Dana Lykins, PT, DPT – College of Health Sciences
- David Murrugarra, PhD, Associate Professor – College of Arts and Sciences
- George Quintero, PhD, Research Analyst – Department of Neuroscience
- Frederick Schmitt, PhD, Professor – Department of Neurology
- John Slevin, MD, Professor – Department of Neurology
- Jeramiah Smith, PhD, Associate Professor – College of Arts and Sciences
- Randal Voss, PhD, Professor – Department of Neuroscience
- Tritia Yamasaki, MD, PhD, Assistant Professor – Department of Neurology