Dr. Christopher Janus
Dementia in Neurodegenerative Disease
Assistant Professor, Neuroscience & CTRND
Post Doc, Sub-Department of Animal Behaviour, Cambridge, 1985-1990
Ph.D., Polish Academy of Sciences and Jagiellonian University, 1984
M.S., Jagiellonian University, 1978
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Research Focus and Aims
Memory and ability to learn are the cognitive faculties that we as humans value most highly. Age-associated neurodegenerative disorders compromise and eventually destroy our memory, “de-humanizing” (dementia) our lives. The increase worldwide demographic aging is reflected by the increase in the number of people suffering from Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias. Despite an enormous research effort, at present, there is no effective therapy for preventing or reducing the risks of developing dementia. The clinically diagnosed symptoms of dementia are usually preceded by years or decades of slow progressing neuronal loss. Also, the epidemiological studies indicate that certain amount of brain damage can be sustained before reaching the threshold of clinical identification, or that experience with cognitive tasks triggers compensatory mechanisms which actively cope with the initial neural damage. This apparent dissociation between the degree of brain damage and its clinical diagnosis limits the sensitivity of early diagnostic efforts.
Translational genetic approach to neurodegeneration
The identification of genes implicated in a number of neurodegenerative disorders has allowed for the development of animal models which not only replicate aspects of the human condition, but also simulate processes that occur in human brain, thus providing an insight into how disease is initiated and how it develops.
In our research, we use mouse models of neurodegenerative disorders to parse contributions of genetic and environmental factors, and their interactions on the onset and severity of dementia with underlying neuronal dysfunction and loss. These models might not only help us to understand the critical events and time-points of behavioural changes preceding dementia, but they might also help us to understand the mechanisms of memory formation and its retrieval. We focus on the development of cognitive impairment in these models, the behavioural plasticity leading to alternative strategies in solution of mnemonic tasks, and the environmental factors modulating such behaviours. A broader understanding of behavioural idiosyncrasies and abnormalities based on comprehensive evaluation of mouse behavioural phenotype will provide surrogate biomarker for the evaluation of non-pharmacological preventive strategies for these diseases, and will help to determine therapeutic efficacy of newly emerging treatments.
Join the team!
We welcome applications from undergraduate/graduate students and post-doctoral fellows who would like to join the lab team
- Alexander, G., Hanna, A., Serna, V., Younkin, L., Younkin, S. & Janus, C. 2010. Increased aggression in males in transgenic Tg2576 mouse model of Alzheimer’s disease. Behav Brain Res. DOI S0166-4328(10)00517-6 [pii]10.1016/j.bbr.2010.07.016.
- Hanna, A., Horne, P., Yager, D., Eckman, C., Eckman, E. & Janus, C. 2009. Amyloid beta and impairment in multiple memory systems in older transgenic APP TgCRND8 mice. Genes Brain Behav, 8, 676-684.
- Yue, M., Hanna, A., Wilson, J., Roder, H. & Janus, C. 2009. Sex difference in pathology and memory decline in rTg4510 mouse model of tauopathy. Neurobiol Aging.
- Eriksen, J. L. & Janus, C. G. 2007. Plaques, Tangles, and Memory Loss in Mouse Models of Neurodegeneration. Behavioral Genetics, 37, 79-100.
- Berger, Z., Roder, H., Hanna, A., Carlson, A., Rangachari, V., Yue, M., Wszolek, Z., Ashe, K., Knight, J., Dickson, D., Andorfer, C., Rosenberry, T. L., Lewis, J., Hutton, M. & Janus, C. 2007. Accumulation of pathological tau species and memory loss in a conditional model of tauopathy. J Neurosci, 27, 3650-3662.
- Janus, C. 2004. Search strategies used by APP transgenic mice during navigation in the Morris water maze. Learn Mem, 11, 337-346.
- Janus, C., Pearson, J., McLaurin, J., Mathews, P. M., Jiang, Y., Schmidt, S. D., Chishti, M. A., Horne, P., Heslin, D., French, J., Mount, H. T., Nixon, R. A., Mercken, M., Bergeron, C., Fraser, P. E., St George-Hyslop, P. & Westaway, D. 2000. A beta peptide immunization reduces behavioural impairment and plaques in a model of Alzheimer’s disease. Nature, 408, 979-982.