Biological & Innovative Researchers

Liang Ma, PhD

Neurodevelopmental disorders, like schizophrenia, and neurodegenerative disorders, like Alzheimer’s disease, are highly heritable diseases. The long-term goal of Liang Ma, PhD, lab is to bridge neurogenetics and neurobiology by determining risk genes/transcripts across a range of human brain diseases and investigate which and how genomic variations affect gene transcriptions and further contribute to diseases’ risk.

Dr. Ma’s research interest focuses on identifying causative genomic variations, genes, and splicing transcripts of human polygenic diseases using genome-wide association study (GWAS), whole-genome sequencing (WGS), RNA-seq, ChIP-seq, ATAC-seq and DNA methylation. Using cutting-edge integrative omics approaches, he has identified a list of functional genetic variants and gene domains, like SNX19, CYP2D6, that potentially increase the risk of schizophrenia. Another research interest of his lab is performing genome editing on neural stem cells of their identified genomic targets, followed by genome editing of human iPS cell lines, and differentiated them to functional neurons and glia for mechanism investigation. The results will help provide accurate molecular targets to guide the future development of precise and effective therapeutics.

 



Research Areas
Biological & Innovative Research

Contact:
Research Profile

James D. Lechleiter, PhD



Research Areas
Biological & Innovative Research


Sarah C. Hopp, PhD

Research focuses on microglia, the immune cells of the central nervous system, and how these cells are involved in Alzheimer’s disease and other age-associated neurodegenerative diseases. Microglia changes during aging, in Alzheimer’s disease and chronic neuroinflammation. A main research objective is to understand how these changes contribute to the initiation and progression of neurodegeneration and cognitive deficits. One line of research focuses on microglia interaction with tau pathology. Misfolded tau accumulates and spreads during Alzheimer’s disease and other tauopathies, and recent evidence from the laboratory suggests that microglia contribute to the spread of tau pathology via dysfunctional degradation of tau.

A second line of research focuses on how microglia intracellular calcium dysregulation in the context of Alzheimer’s pathology alters normal microglia processes and contributes to their dysfunction in Alzheimer’s disease. A particular interest is differentiating cell autonomous and non-cell autonomous effects of manipulating microglia in vivo. A variety of methods are utilized to address these research goals including transgenic animal models, behavior analyses, cell culture, imaging, protein biochemistry, flow cytometry, immunohistochemistry and pharmacological and genetic manipulation of microglia-specific pathways.



Research Areas
Biological & Innovative Research

Contact:
hopps1@uthscsa.edu
Research Profile

Jayandra Jung Himali, PhD

Research efforts are focused on the interrelated areas of : (i) the epidemiology of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease (AD), (ii) traditional and novel biomarkers for dementia and AD, (iii) the epidemiology of  stroke and vascular cognitive impairment, and understanding vascular contributions to cognitive impairment and dementia including AD and (iv) investigating the role of modifiable lifestyle factors: sleep, diet, physical activity on the incidence of dementia, cognitive decline and MRI-defined brain aging. Additional research focuses on outcome assessment in epilepsy and neuropathology.

Jayandra Jung Himali, Ph.D., also serves as an investigator of the Framingham Heart Study and an adjunct associate professor of neurology and biostatistics at Boston University Schools of Medicine and of Public Health.



Research Areas
Biological & Innovative Research, Population Neuroscience

Contact:
himali@uthscsa.edu