Molecular mechanisms of glial cell development, function and tumor biology

Research in the Lu Lab aims to understand how distinct glial cell subtypes (oligodendrocytes, astrocytes and Schwann cells) in the central and peripheral nervous systems are generated, how they are regenerated after injury, and how their progenitors are transformed into cancerous cells under pathological conditions. We study the development and plasticity of glial progenitor cells using a variety of novel molecular, cellular and imaging technologies in combination with in vivo targeting and fate mapping approaches. A major focus of our lab research is to elucidate the transcriptional, posttranscriptional, epigenetic and signaling regulatory networks that govern glial progenitor fate specification, differentiation and tumor formation. Our long-term goal is to develop effective therapies for treating neurological disorders caused by glial cell dysfunction, promoting nerve regeneration after injury or diseases such as multiple sclerosis, and blocking brain tumor initiation and progression.

Current rotation projects in Lu Lab center on: 

  1. Characterization of the role of novel glial lineage-specific genes in nervous system development and myelination
  2. Characterization of progenitor cell sources and mechanisms that control initiation of brain cancers including medulloblastoma and glioma.