Sophomore Seminars

Experimental Stroke


Stroke is one of the leading causes of human morbidity and mortality worldwide. In the United States alone, a stroke occurs every 40 seconds. You might have been heartbroken when it ruined the life of a loved one, or you might have heard of or witnessed how stroke affected other people. How do you know if you or someone in your family is at risk?

Stroke occurs when the blood supply to the brain is cut off and it involves at least four basic components: the brain, the blood vessels, the blood contained in the blood vessels, and the heart—the pump that delivers blood into the brain. Stroke can result in brain infarction (tissue death), which can lead to death or disability in the patient. To understand it, we will examine the relationships between the brain, blood, blood vessels, and heart. We will explore how injury to brain structures alters neurological function. One such example is aphasia, a language disorder seen in stroke patients. We will also discuss in depth the cellular and molecular mechanisms of neuronal death and survival in the brain after stroke. We will introduce experimental tools for stroke treatment, such as gene therapy, cell therapy, hypothermia, pre-conditioning, post-conditioning, and other pharmacological treatments. Importantly, this seminar will give students first-hand knowledge about how stroke research is conducted. Students will have the opportunity to learn how stroke models are created in the laboratory. You will be invited to our laboratory to observe closely how surgery is performed. You are strongly encouraged to ask any questions you have at any time, thus navigating the direction of the class.

Meet the Instructor(s)

Heng Zhao

Heng Zhao is a research assistant professor in the Department of Neurosurgery. His research interest is to explore novel neuroprotectants that have potential for clinical translation and to study the underlying cellular and molecular mechanisms. His lab is the first to demonstrate that ischemic post-conditioning reduces infarction after stroke, and that remote pre-conditioning protects against focal ischemia in rats. He received his postdoctoral training from Stanford. He received his Ph.D. from Nihon University, School of Medicine in Tokyo, Japan, and his B.S. and M.S. from the West China University of Medical Sciences in Chengdu, China.