Together with the Nanoscience Initiative, we will work on the development of new platforms for drug discovery and CNS repair. The Casaccia’s Lab has been interested in characterizing the effect of micro-environment on the stimulation of oligodendrocyte progenitor differentiation with an emphasis on mechanostimulation. They are currently expanding this investigation by working with Dr. Elisa Riedo’s group, with expertise in complex chemical and topographical 3D nanopatterning. Dr. Casaccia’s group is also working with Dr. Ulijn on enzyme-driven approaches of self- assembly of nanostructures as potential strategies for brain tumors, and with Dr. Adam Braunschweig to investigate composition of neural structures in the healthy and diseased brain. This interdisciplinary effort will include also faculty members at Lehman, Brooklyn and Hunter College.
Together with Structural Biology and Photonics Initiatives, we will develop new tools and probes to study and manipulate the effect of oxygen tension, pH, and light on glial cells. We are very actively investigating the effect of metabolites on regulating the oligodendrocyte epigenome. We foresee working with Dr. Kevin Gardner to develop optogenetics tools, which will allow us the manipulation of the epigenetic marks. The development of environmental sensors to detect cellular activities will provide elements of innovation and the potential to conduct truly transformative science with the goal of reversing epigenetic marks linked to aging or disease signatures.
Together with the Environmental Sciences Initiative (ESI), we will investigate the effect of environmental variables (i.e. water/air/soil composition) on brain structure and function. By collaborating with Dr. Peter Groffman, an expert in Urbanization and Dr. Charles Vorosmarty, an expert on water dynamics and large data analysis, together with other colleagues at Queens College, College of Staten Island and CCNY, we are addressing the impact of the environment on white matter and behavior. A collaboration with the Child Mind Organization and the fMRI facility (Dr. Duke Shereen) is further strengthening this analysis by investigation on human subjects.