Stephen Back Lab

Program in regeneration and repair of cerebral white matter injury

Back Lab

The Back Lab focuses on the development of novel strategies to promote regeneration and repair after injury to the developing or adult brain.We employ several complementary approaches that utilize human tissues, tissue culture systems and unique animal models. We employ a cutting-edge multidisciplinary team approach that integrates studies utilizing cellular and molecular biology, electrophysiology, physiology, pharmacology, neuropathology, quantitative morphometry/stereology, spinning disc and laser confocal microscopy and high field MRI. We are continually "pushing the envelope" to grapple with the challenges of studying injury in the developing and adult nervous system.

We are studying several human diseases where cerebral white matter injury (WMI) is accompanied by disturbances in myelination.These include disorders at several stages of life where WMI is prominent: cerebral palsy in survivors of premature birth, multiple sclerosis, and vascular dementias.

We have found that all of these disorders share similar mechanisms in terms of the disturbances in the response of glial cells that disrupt the normal progression of myelination. We are currently studying molecules within the extracellular matrix that block white matter repair via an arrest in maturation of the oligodendrocyte progenitors required for normal myelination.We seek to develop molecular strategies to promote the generation of myelin in chronic white matter lesions with the long-term goal to restore motor and cognitive function lost from WMI.

We capitalize on the robust resources of the OHSU neuroscience community- one of the largest in the U.S. The OHSU Brain Institute has more than 1,000 scientists and clinicians. It is one of the nation's leading centers for neuroscience, and it ranks in the top two percent for competitive grant support from the National Institutes of Health.OHSU is situated in Portland, Oregon, one of America's most live-able and vibrant cities.

Learn more about Dr. Back: Program Director, Pediatric Neuroscience Research Program