• Kevin K. Park, PhD

    Assistant Professor, Department of Neurological Surgery, University of Miami Miller School of Medicine

    Research: “Novel Combinatorial Approaches to Enhance Retinal Ganglion Cell Survival and Axon Regeneration after Optic Nerve Injury”


    Intrinsic mechanisms of axon regeneration

    My lab is interested in understanding the neuron’s intrinsic mechanisms that account for failure of axon regeneration in the central nervous system (CNS). Previously, I and others have identified several key proteins (e.g. PTEN and TSC1) within neurons that block axon regeneration. Silencing these genes was sufficient to promote re-growth of CNS axons. In my current research, I am hoping to further extend my findings in order to better understand the mechanisms governing axon regeneration and also to explore the potential of developing therapeutic strategies for spinal cord injury and other neurodegenerative conditions. Using in vivo models of nerve regeneration, I will address a number of important questions arising from our previous findings.

    1. What are the underlying mechanisms for the axon regeneration seen after manipulating genes within the CNS neurons?
    2. Are the regenerating axons able to restore functional recovery?
    3. Can we use combinatorial strategies to further improve axon regeneration and functional recovery?
    Successful functional recovery after spinal cord injury requires multiple steps. Firstly, axotomized neurons must remain healthy and viable in order to re-grow axons. Correct path-finding of regenerating axons into the distal target regions is important for proper functional outcomes. Regenerating axons require remyelination in order to convey efficient electrical signals. Sustained long distance axon regeneration seen after genetic manipulation of specific genes is providing opportunities to explore these questions and to ultimately probe for potential therapeutic interventions against paralyzing and neurodegenerative conditions.


    Kevin K. Park, PhD, publications

Copyright ©2011 E. Matilda Ziegler Foundation for the Blind