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The Baas Lab Projects

The Baas Lab studies the essential roles of microtubules in the neuron and how they are regulated during development. We also study how microtubule-based mechanisms go awry during injury and disease of the nervous system. The broad goals are to expand the body of knowledge on these important topics, and to use the gathered knowledge to develop therapies for treating patients with nerve injuries or disease. Graduate students and postdoctoral fellows are specifically involved in the following projects.


Project 1: Developmental/Cellular Neuroscience

Understanding the role of molecular motor proteins in the transport and organization of microtubules underlying:

  • Axon growth and retraction
  • Axon branching
  • Axon navigation/pathfinding
  • Dendrite development
  • Neuronal migration
Drexel Baas Lab: A. Molecular motors transport short microtubules. / B. Motors impose focus on long microtubules.
Drexel Baas Lab: A. Retracting axon. / B. Elongating axon. / C. Navigating growth cone.

Project 2: Developmental/Cellular Neuroscience

Understanding the role of microtubule-severing proteins in the transport and organization of microtubules underlying:

  • Axon growth and retraction
  • Axon branching
  • Axon navigation/pathfinding
  • Dendrite development
  • Neuronal migration
Drexel Baas Lab: Katanin Mode / Spastin Mode microtubule-severing proteins.

Project 3: Neurodegenerative Disease

Understanding the role of microtubule-related proteins and microtubule-based mechanisms in neurodegenerative diseases, with emphasis on:

  • Hereditary spastic paraplegia
  • Alzheimer's disease
  • Gulf War illness
Drexel Baas Lab: Model for microtubule-based axonal degeneration in Alzheimer's disease.

Project 4: Injury and Repair

Understanding the role of microtubule-related proteins and microtubule based mechanisms in the response to injury of damaged nerves, with emphasis on:

  • Peripheral nerve injury
  • Spinal cord injury
  • Traumatic brain injury
Drexel Baas Lab: Possible Katanin/Spastin Gene Therapy for Spinal Cord Repair

 
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Baas Lab researchers used electron tomography to construct a 3D model (bottom), and found that whereas most microtubules (green) are attached to the centrosome (blue), a small number are unattached. The unattached microtubules are able to undergo motor-driven sliding, which helps neurons migrate in a straight line.