University Honors College - The Honorable mention

Neuroscience Research Opportunity

Posted by Tim on November 28, 2016 in Academics, Research Information and Opportunities

Junior Faculty looking for undergraduates in the neuroscience research lab at the Hunter James Kelly Research Institute.

Hunter James Kelly Research Institute

NYS Center of Excellence in Bioinformatics & Life Sciences 

701 Ellicott St  Buffalo NY 14203 Tel: 716-888-4882

Fax: 716-849-6651




Our interests are centered around the cellular and molecular mechanisms of axon degeneration, which renders neurons and their networks dysfunctional in many disease contexts. Axons are the longest projection of neurons. They are essential to connect neuronal regulatory centers to their distant peripheral targets. They extend for over a meter in many vertebrates, and their peculiar cytoarchitecture with their length exceeding over 10,000 times the dimension of the cell body makes them particularly vulnerable to damage. In humans, axon degeneration occurs in numerous pathological conditions, ranging from neurodegeneration, inflammation and aging to metabolic diseases. Importantly, once axons are lost they can be replaced by new axons through the process of axon regeneration, although this effect is typically limited.


Axon loss contributes to several overt symptoms in these conditions and it often occurs early in the disease, clearly preceding cell body death. This degenerative process is regulated by specific molecules, but its network of signaling remains largely unknown. We study which proteins and posttranslational modifications control these signaling cascades. With a better understanding we hope to modulate the rate of axon degeneration, to either decrease the loss of neuronal connectivity and function, or to enhance regeneration. We have recently identified the murine E3 ubiquitin ligase, Phr1, as a modulator of both axon degeneration (Babetto et al., 2013 Cell Reports) and regeneration (unpublished) and will investigate its cellular and molecular mechanism of action. Currently, a prospective student can contribute to test the role of Phr1 in chronic conditions of axon injury, to evaluate its effectiveness in several mouse models of disease (i.e. Charcot-Marie-Tooth, stroke, taxol neuropathy etc). The student will gain hands-on-experience with mouse colony maintenance, learn to perform motor and sensory tests, administration of drugs, and apply biochemical and histological techniques.