Stratas is incredibly proud to announce the winner of the $5,000 Stratas Founders Award, Dr. Sung Mo Park, a post-doctorate researcher at SickKids Hospital. Dr. Park’s research project explores how amyloid-beta accumulation in the brain leads to memory disruption in patients with Alzheimer’s disease (AD). ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
Dr. Park’s research seeks to demonstrate that AD-induced memory deficits are not permanent memory impairments but rather the consequence of engram cell deactivation in the dorsal hippocampal region of the brain. In Dr. Park’s words, the lost memories of those living with AD have not been erased but have become “silent” through changed neuronal activity. Dr. Park’s team hypothesizes that these silent memories can “reawaken” through increased synaptic connections in engram neurons. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
This award, the largest offered by the Stratas Foundation, will help fund Dr. Park’s study to determine whether optogenetic activation of engram neurons in the CA1 region of the hippocampus recall impaired memories in mice. To this end, Dr. Park’s team will tag engram neurons in mice with Alzheimer’s disease during fear learning, and then will stimulate the same engram neurons during a subsequent fear test. He will use a variety of methods to explore whether enhancing synaptic plasticity and cellular activity in this area would similarly restore memory function. In addition to measuring synaptic activity, Dr. Park will use a genetically encoded calcium indicator (GCaMP) to indirectly measure changed neuronal activities in real time. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
A technically complex project, Dr. Park’s research will provide the groundwork for new treatment channels for Alzheimer’s disease. Dr. Park’s research on novel forms of AD treatment is made all the more necessary in light of the fact that 1 in 3 seniors die with Alzheimer’s or another form of dementia. Stratas is very proud to provide our financial assistance to this crucial project on one of the world’s most widespread neurodegenerative diseases for which there is no cure.