The NTI’s Mission
Maintenance of functional connections between neurons or between neurons and muscles underlies all our motor and cognitive abilities—tapping your foot to your favorite song, savoring a ripe strawberry, or recalling happy memories. Neurodegenerative disease or traumatic injury to the nervous system results in loss of neuronal connections, causes neurons and their fibrous processes to degenerate, and irreversibly compromises nervous system function. Despite the prevalence of neurodegenerative disorders like amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), Parkinson’s Disease, Alzheimer’s Disease, Huntington’s Disease (HD), and Charcot-Marie-Tooth Disease (CMT), and the high frequency of severe nervous system traumas observed in patients (e.g. spinal cord injury, or traumatic brain injury), we are frustratingly ignorant about the cellular and molecular changes that occur in sick or injured neurons that ultimately result in neuronal degeneration and disease. What is the root cause of neuronal dysfunction and degeneration in each disease? How similar are degenerative mechanisms among different diseases and/or traumas? Are there identifiable molecular pathways that drive these events, and can we manipulate these pathways to intervene and block disease progression? The NTI is a multi-disciplinary team of basic biomedical researchers and clinician-scientists who work together both intellectually and experimentally to unravel the molecular mechanisms regulating brain cell stability or driving brain cell destruction. Our central goal is to rapidly develop new therapies for treating neurodegenerative disorders and injuries to the nervous system.