Studying brain and nervous system development and the underlying genetic and physiological basis of neurological diseases and neuroprotection.
The Ma Laboratory is interested in study the genetic and epigenetic mechanisms regulating neural development and neurodegeneration, in particular mechanisms related to RNA methylation and mitochondrial function. The team uses a combination of biochemical, cell biological, genetic, and sequencing approaches, and uses mice, neural stem cells, and zebrafish as model systems.
Our lab focuses on questions at the intersection of neuroscience and mitochondrial metabolism. The primary focus is on mechanisms linking mitochondrial metabolism and changes to specific neuronal subpopulations. We examine these questions through the lens of mitochondrial diseases, but also with an eye to the broader implications of mitochondria metabolism.
Current projects in the lab are in collaboration with Dr. Navdeep Chandel at Northwestern University, a world expert on mitochondrial metabolism. We are studying the effects of manipulating complex I in the electron transport chain specifically in GABAergic interneurons. We are able to target key metabolic pathways using advanced genetic techniques to evaluate the role of mitochondria in interneurons. In a current project we are targeting the conversion of NADH to NAD+. Techniques include immunohistochemistry, metabolomics, and behavioral analysis. We use a combination of In vitro human-derived stem cell techniques and in vivo mouse modeling. We are also interested in using different gene delivery techniques to alter neurometabolism in highly targeted ways, with a long term goal of delivering treatments for mitochondrial diseases.