Henriette van Praag, Ph.D.
Laboratory of Neurosciences
251 Bayview Boulevard
Baltimore, MD 21224
Most neurons in the adult central nervous system are terminally differentiated and cannot be replaced when they die. However, research over the past decade has shown that small populations of new neurons are generated in the mature olfactory bulb and hippocampus. Interestingly, the production and survival of newborn cells can be regulated by a variety of environmental and neurochemical stimuli. In particular, voluntary exercise in a running wheel is correlated with increased hippocampal neurogenesis, enhanced synaptic plasticity and improved performance in a spatial maze in adult rodents. It is the aim of our research to understand this unexpected form of plasticity of the adult central nervous system and to begin to define underlying cellular and molecular mechanisms. It is our hope that this work may lead to methods of replacing or enhancing brain tissues lost or damaged due to neurodegeneration or injury.
Henriette van Praag received her Ph.D. from the Department of Psychobiology at Tel-Aviv University in 1992 for her work studying the development of opiate receptor function with Dr. Hanan Frenk. She did her postdoctoral research on the role of nerve growth factors in brain injury at Robert Wood Johnson Medical School in New Jersey with Dr. Ira Black from 1992-1997. She continued her research in brain regeneration as a staff scientist with Dr. Fred Gage in the Laboratory of Genetics at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies in La Jolla, California from 1997-2007. Specifically, she researched the regulation of the birth of new neurons in the adult hippocampus, a brain area that is important in learning and memory, and made significant discoveries pertaining to the regulation of neurogenesis by exercise and the functional integration of new neurons into the hippocampus.
Vivar C, Potter MC, Choi J, Lee JY, Stringer TP, Callaway EM, Gage FH, Suh H, van Praag H. Monosynaptic inputs to new neurons in the dentate gyrus. Nat Commun. 2012;3:1107.
Cooper C, Moon HY, van Praag H. On the Run for Hippocampal Plasticity. Cold Spring Harb Perspect Med. 2017.
Moon HY, Becke A, Berron D, Becker B, Sah N, Benoni G, Janke E, Lubejko ST, Greig NH, Mattison JA, Duzel E, van Praag H. Running-Induced Systemic Cathepsin B Secretion Is Associated with Memory Function. Cell Metab. 2016;24(2):332-40.
Vivar C, Peterson BD, van Praag H. Running rewires the neuronal network of adult-born dentate granule cells. Neuroimage. 2016;131:29-41.
Voss MW, Vivar C, Kramer AF, van Praag H. Bridging animal and human models of exercise-induced brain plasticity. Trends Cogn Sci. 2013;17(10):525-44.