Our nervous system is the primary organ by which we sense, interpret, remember, and respond to the outside world and to our own internal physiology. Unlike many bodily tissues, the nervous system is largely incapable of replacing damaged cells once development is complete, making it susceptible to the stresses that accompany traumatic injury and age-associated decline.
We are interested in how neurons adapt to different stresses, including hypoxia (low oxygen) and proteotoxic stress, that otherwise result in neurodegeneration. By understanding the mechanisms neurons use to survive these stresses, we hope to facilitate the diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of diseases ranging from ischemic stroke, Parkinson’s Disease, and Alzheimer’s Disease that are attributable to neurodegeneration.
Our research focuses on three specific topics:
How do neurons and other tissues respond to hypoxic stress?
What are the factors that mediate or regulate mitochondrial transport, dynamics, and mitophagy in neurons?
How does the nervous system regulate the Ubiquitin Proteasome System and maintain protein homeostasis in other tissues?
Chris Rongo is a Principal Investigator in the Waksman Institute, Professor and Vice Chair of the Rutgers Department of Genetics . He studies the molecular genetics of nervous system function and plasticity in C. elegans. A current focus in his lab is on understanding three areas of neurophysiology: how the transport and dynamics of mitochondria are mediated along axons and dendrites, as well as at synapses; how neurons, synapses, and neuronal mitochondria respond to hypoxic stress (e.g., ischemic stroke); and how the Ubiquitin Proteasome System (UPS) maintains protein homeostasis and cellular aging.