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Myelin Repair and Regeneration

Discovering ways to induce myelin repair

Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences
Bethesda, MD Dr. Regina Armstrong

The National Stem Cell Foundation is partnering with the National MS Society to support the work of Dr. Regina Armstrong at the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences in Bethesda, Maryland.

Dr. Armstrong is finding ways to induce myelin repair by working with a molecule called “Sonic Hedgehog” known to multiply cell division and increase the number of myelin-making cells. Myelin is the insulation around nerve fibers that allows the brain to transmit electrical impulses to the rest of the body.

If successful, this research may lead to therapies that will improve symptoms and restore function for people with MS and children with inherited demyelinating disorders that are fatal in childhood.

Biography:

Dr. Armstrong graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in Neuroscience from the University of Rochester, and received her PhD in Neurobiology at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill.

Dr. Armstrong’s current primary academic appointment is as Professor of Anatomy, Physiology, and Genetics in the F. Edward Hebert School of Medicine at Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences. Dr. Armstrong holds secondary appointments in the Neuroscience and the Molecular and Cell Biology Graduate Programs.

Dr. Armstrong received the faculty award for Outstanding Graduate Biomedical Educator from the School of Medicine in 2002. She served as Director of the USU Neuroscience Graduate Program from 2002-2008 before stepping down to establish the Center for Neuroscience and Regenerative Medicine (CNRM).

The CNRM is a collaborative intramural research program of the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences (USU) with the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center (WRNMMC). The CNRM focus is pre-clinical through clinical research to promote recovery from traumatic brain injury and to improve psychological health in combat casualties cared for at WRNMMC. Dr. Armstrong served as the Director of the CNRM from 2008-2017 and now serves as the CNRM Director of Translational Research.

Dr. Armstrong teaches in the first year medical student module on the nervous system and in several graduate student courses. Dr. Armstrong’s laboratory focuses on mechanisms of damage and repair in the brain and spinal cord. This work employs diverse research approaches, from molecular techniques to neuroimaging, to address ways to improve neuroregeneration and repair capacity in the CNS.

Research efforts in her laboratory have been funded through peer-reviewed competitive awards from the NIH, the National Multiple Sclerosis Foundation, and the Department of Defense.

Dr. Armstrong’s research program has focused on cellular and molecular mechanisms of neuroregeneration. This work has taken from developmental studies and applied the techniques and approaches to examine repair after disease or injury.

More specifically, her lab has extensive experience in white matter injury in multiple sclerosis models and in single and repetitive closed head injury models of mild traumatic brain injury.