The major focus of Dr. Ohno's research is on (1) understanding molecular, cellular, and systems foundations of learning and memory, and (2) establishing therapeutic strategies to improve and/or prevent the progression of cognitive disorders associated with Alzheimer’s disease or normal aging.
With the aging of our population, therapeutic interventions of cognitive disorders or dementia are becoming one of the most crucial facets of public health. Elucidating mechanisms by which information is encoded, stored and recalled in normal brain and understanding how these processes are impaired in disease conditions work cooperatively like the two wheels in order to unequivocally validate potential therapeutic approaches for the treatment of human cognitive impairments. Modern behavioral, biophysical and molecular genetics of the mouse provides a powerful tool to address these problems. In our laboratory, we apply a combination of molecular biology, biochemistry, electrophysiology, and behavioral assays to genetically engineered mouse models that lack or overexpress specific genes. These multidisciplinary analyses of mutant mice synergistically favor our tackling divergent aspects of learning & memory and their impairments. Specifically, my research projects include: (1) synaptic and nuclear signaling mechanisms (e.g., CaMKII, MAPK, CREB, etc.) as molecular substrates of learning & memory and related cellular events (e.g., LTP, neuron excitability, neurogenesis, etc.); (2) functional consequences of the b-secretase (BACE1) manipulations in Alzheimer model mice, in particular, neural mechanisms for memory rescue by BACE1 inhibition leading to the development of disease-altering therapeutic treatments for Alzheimer’s disease.