People Behind the Science: Dr. Herbert Geller: Growing Excitement for Research in Potential Treatments for Spinal Cord Injury

Dr. Herbert Geller Senior Investigator in the Developmental Neurobiology Section at NIH

Dr. Herbert Geller Senior Investigator in the Developmental Neurobiology Secion at NIH

Dr. Marie McNeely continues to interview scientists working in the field of spinal cord injury paralysis. One of her latest in addition to Drs. Yu-Shang Lee and Murray Blackmore is with Dr. Herbert M Geller.

Dr. Herbert Geller is a Senior Investigator in the Developmental Neurobiology Section and Head of the Office of Education at the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute of the National Institutes of Health. He received his PhD in Biomedical Engineering from Case Western Reserve University and conducted postdoctoral research afterward at the University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry. Herbert served on the faculty at the Robert Wood Johnson Medical School for over 30 years before joining the NIH. He is a member of the Society for Neuroscience and the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

The Geller lab investigates why people don’t recover from central nervous system injuries including spinal cord injuries. They are working on developing potential treatments that will help people recover function after spinal cord injury, particularly focusing on how to inhibit the stop signals in the brain that prevent cells from regenerating after injury. Herbert is interested in fostering the career development of young scientists as well as promoting recovery of function following brain and spinal cord injuries.

Herbert and his colleagues have discovered an enzyme that appears to inhibit the stop signals that prevent neuron regeneration. This is particularly exciting because it is already an approved drug for use in people for other purposes. With enough preliminary evidence, their discovery could move straight into use in people and really have an impact on people’s lives. Most recently, his group participated in the identification of novel neuronal receptors for proteoglycans.

At present, there are no approved therapies for treating spinal cord injuries, which produce damage to axons that transmit information to and from the brain. These damaged axons do not regrow, due to the absence of signals that promote growth and the presence of other molecules that actively impede growth. His research demonstrated that a class of molecules in the extracellular matrix, called chondroitin sulfate proteoglycans, have a major role in impeding growth, and that these actions can be attributed to the sulfated chondroitin sugars attached to the protein core of the molecule. His group was the first to identify a novel sulfation motif within chondroitin sulfate and has developed a potential therapy for spinal cord injury using a drug that specifically targets this motif.

Listen in on Dr. Marie McNeely’s interview with Dr. Herbert Geller Episode #209 People Behind the Science at this LINK.

The Geller Lab LINK.

This entry was posted in Chronic Spinal Cord Injury Research, Regenerative Medicine, Spinal Research and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.