Research in the Elizabeth Tucker Lab aims to find treatments that decrease neuroinflammation and improve recovery, as well as to improve morbidity and mortality in patients with infectious neurological diseases. We are currently working with Drs. Sujatha Kannan and Sanjay Jain to study neuroinflammation related to central nervous system tuberculosis – using an animal model to examine the role of neuroinflammation in this disease and how it can differ in developing brains and adult brains. Our team also is working with Dr. Jain to study noninvasive imaging techniques for use in monitoring disease progression and evaluating treatment responses.
The Human Brain Physiology and Stimulation Laboratory studies the mechanisms of motor learning and develops interventions to modulate motor function in humans. The goal is to understand how the central nervous system controls and learns to perform motor actions in healthy individuals and in patients with neurological diseases such as stroke. Using this knowledge, we aim to develop strategies to enhance motor function in neurological patients.
To accomplish these interests, we use different forms of non-invasive brain stimulation techniques, such as transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS), transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS), as well as functional MRI and behavioral tasks.
The Laboratory for computational Motor Control studies movement control in humans, including healthy people and people with neurological diseases.
We use robotics, brain stimulation and neuroimaging to study brain function. Our long-term goals are to use mathematics to understand: 1) the basic function of the motor structures of the brain including the cerebellum, the basal ganglia and the motor cortex; and 2) the relationship between how our brain controls our movements and how it controls our decisions.
Our team is focused on understanding how complex movements are normally learned and controlled, and how damage to specific brain areas impairs these processes. We employ several techniques to quantify movement including: 3-dimensional tracking and reconstruction of movement, recordings of muscle activity, force plate recordings, and calculation of joint forces and torques. These techniques allow for very precise measurements of many different types of movements including: walking, reaching, leg movements, hand movements and standing balance. All studies are designed to test specific hypotheses about the function of different brain areas, the cause of specific impairments and/or the effects of different interventions.
The nervous system has extremely complex RNA processing regulation. Dysfunction of RNA metabolism has emerged to play crucial roles in multiple neurological diseases. Mutations and pathologies of several RNA-binding proteins are found to be associated with neurodegeneration in both amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) and frontotemporal dementia (FTD). An alternative RNA-mediated toxicity arises from microsatellite repeat instability in the human genome. The expanded repeat-containing RNAs could potentially induce neuron toxicity by disrupting protein and RNA homeostasis through various mechanisms.
The Sun Lab is interested in deciphering the RNA processing pathways altered by the ALS-causative mutants to uncover the mechanisms of toxicity and molecular basis of cell type-selective vulnerability. Another major focus of the group is to identify small molecule and genetic inhibitors of neuron toxic factors using various high-throughput screening platforms. Finally, we are also highly i...nterested in developing novel CRISPR technique-based therapeutic strategies. We seek to translate the mechanistic findings at molecular level to therapeutic target development to advance treatment options against neurodegenerative diseases.view more