Research

The Prince Center principal investigators aim to advance our understanding of the deficits involved in aging and neurodegenerative conditions and facilitate their translation into personalized treatments.

A brief summary of specific on-going projects follows. Click the box for more information on each project:

Establish a pre-clinical testing facility to test neuroprotective compounds and new neurodegeneration models and examine a broad spectrum of relevant behaviors that are impaired in Alzheimer’s disease, including attention, learning and memory, motor performance, emotional and social behavior (Avital lab). 
Understand the electrophysiology of the aging brain and its impact on memory processes, using extracellular recordings from awake-behaving rats in spatial memory tasks, in combination with neuronal optogenetic stimulation protocols (Derdikman lab).
Understand changes in the structure and biophysics of single principle pyramidal neurons in the cortex, in formation of working and long term memories in mature vs. old animals and pathological conditions. Understanding how the pyramidal neuron, which is the “functional unit” of the cortex changes, is crucial for developing new molecular and genetic tools to treat these neurons (Jackie Schiller lab).
Develop new methods for early identification of functional changes in network organization in aged animals and animal models of Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases brains using combined fMRI and optogenetic tools (Kahn lab).
Neurostimulation for treating neurodegenerative diseases. The use of closed-loop stimulation paradigms as well as optogenetic stimulation methods will be investigated with the aim of developing novel, more efficient neurostimulators for treating both Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s diseases (Yitzhak Schiller lab).
Understand the molecular mechanisms that control the ability of neurons to maintain their synaptic connections and the particular properties of individual synapses in face of the dynamics and “erosive forces” that act to destabilize such connections. This understanding is vital, as synapses are believed to serve as key loci for modifications associated with learning and memory (Ziv lab).
Provide a better understanding of the mechanisms and roles of nitric oxide in Alzheimer’s disease and may suggest novel targets for future therapeutic intervention (Benhar lab).
Research on the ubiquitin system will be applied to study how proteins aggregate in cells and lead to neurodegeneration in a model of Huntington’s disease and how it may influence the pathology of Alzheimer’s disease (Ciechanover lab).
Unravel the mechanisms that control the degradation and accumulation of proteins that are hallmarks of neurodegenerative conditions including Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases. Understanding these mechanisms is crucial to the development of new ways to control the accumulations of these proteins and possibly ameliorate the symptoms of these diseases (Engelender lab).
Understand how the immune system influences the Alzheimer’s pathology and how the decline in cholinergic neurons, which characterizes Alzheimer’s disease affects the involvement of the immune system in the disease (Rolls lab).
Understand how general protein production (translation) is deregulated in response to toxic aggregation of Amyloid β in Alzheimer’s disease. Use novel state of the art tools to study how the protein production machinery is perturbed in Alzheimer’s Disease and how misregulation of general protein production and folding contributes to disease progression (Shalgi lab).
Study how the protein amyloid-β, which is known to accumulate in the brain of Alzheimer’s disease patients, controls the function of D-serine, a major activator of NMDA-type glutamate receptors. As the latter are key players in both normal brain function and brain pathologies, understanding the production of D-Serine can potentially pave ways for new neuroprotective strategies (Wolosker lab).