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The major goal of our research is to develop innovative technologies for brain repair using our newly established in vivo cell conversion technology (Guo et al., Cell Stem Cell, 2014). Reactive gliosis is a common pathological hallmark after brain injury or diseases. Currently there is no method available to reverse glial scar back to normal neural tissue. We have developed a novel technology to convert reactive glial cells, induced by brain injury or Alzheimer’s disease, directly into functional neurons in mouse brain in vivo. This is achieved by expressing a single neural transcription factor NeuroD1 in glial cells. We further demonstrated that human astrocytes in culture can be directly converted into functional neurons by a cocktail of small molecules (Zhang et al., Cell Stem Cell, 2015), suggesting that our new technology may potentially benefit millions of patients worldwide.  Our in vivo cell conversion technology may have broad applications in neural repair after stroke, traumatic brain injury, spinal cord injury, Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, Huntington’s disease, ALS, and glioma. We are currently developing both gene therapy and drug therapy for brain repair.

Dr. Gong Chen

Gong Chen
Professor and Verne M. Willaman Chair in Life Sciences
224 Life Sciences
University Park, PA 16802
Phone: (814) 865-2488
Lab Address: 226 Life Sciences
Lab Phone: (814) 863-2992