Song awarded grant to study brain cell restoration after stroke

Juan Song, PhD, an assistant professor of pharmacology, received a 4-year, $308,000 Scientist Development Award from the American Heart Association to investigate how brain cells called interneurons influence the regeneration of the hippocampus region of the brain after stroke.

There are no effective treatments that promote recovery after stroke, which remains one of the leading causes of death worldwide.

“We think that reestablishing even a fraction of the damaged brain circuitry could have important clinical implications for patients,” said Song, a member of the UNC Neuroscience Center. “We’re investigating the critical cellular components that need to be restored after stroke.”

GABAergic interneurons are considered local brain cells; they form connections to the neural stem cells in the adult brain. These stem cells, in turn, generate more stem cells, neurons, or astrocytes—the most abundant cell type in the adult brain. Song is conducted experiments to uncover the biochemical mechanisms that help interneurons regulate the creation or restoration of neurons in the adult brain upon brain injuries, especially those involving the restriction of blood flow.

Her team also hopes to provide a solid scientific foundation for further study into the clinical relevance of targeting local brain circuitry to treat neurological diseases or brain injury.

Read more about her work in this feature article.

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