Professor, COM Ophthalmology
Associate Professor, CEAS - Biomedical Eng
850 Engineering Research Cntr
Associate Professor of Molecular & Cellular Physiology, COM Physiology Pixley Lab
4206A Medical Sciences Building
Research in the Pixley lab has moved from a past emphasis on the neurogenesis and neuropharmacology of the olfactory system into more applied neural tissue repair work. Our current focus is on using novel biomaterials to promote neural tissue repair and regeneration. One of the most promising biomaterials is magnesium, primarily in metal form. Magnesium metal has properties that have increasingly attracted attention in recent years for use as a bioresorbable biomedical implant material. The most advanced uses are currently as bone fixation devices and as a cardiovascular stent material. Magnesium metal is strong initially, then very safely resorbs into the body. We are identifying novel ways to use magnesium metal to improve recovery of nervous tissues from injury damage, focusing first on repairing injury cuts in peripheral nerves in rats. We are also exploring the use of ionic magnesium for nervous tissue repair. Magnesium in ionic form is known to be neuroprotective and aids recovery of brain tissues after traumatic injury or stroke. Magnesium ions reduce secondary neuronal damage that occurs after the initial injury and reduce vasospasm that occurs in the brain after damage and is also damagine. Our collaborative group includes surgeons, neurobiologists, neuropathologists, and engineers from many categories. We are currently funded by an NSF grant that supports an Engineering Research Center dedicated to Revolutionizing Metallic Biomaterials (http://erc.ncat.edu/). As a second focus, the lab is exploring the use of carbon nanotube (CNT) materials for nervous tissue repair. Expert engineering groups at UC produce novel forms of CNT materials, which are linear biomaterials with promise for promoting neuronal outgrowth and repair. Our initial work shows that neuronal stem cells migrate readily along CNT thread and complete differentiation. We are also using CNT materials to guide nervous tissue repair.