About Us

The Sathyanesan Laboratory focuses on understanding the role played by multifunctional trophic factors in the central nervous system. These molecules, such as erythrpoietin (EPO) and insulin-like growth factor (IGF), act on multiple cell types in the brain.

We are currently interested in EPO as preclinical and clinical studies have demonstrated antidepressant and cognitive enhancing effects. Our studies have shown similar efficacy in mouse and rat behavioral assays. As EPO could produce adverse hematological complications with extended treatment, we are examining non-erythropoietic derivatives of EPO with a long term goal of developing them in viable central nervous system (CNS) drug molecules.

To characterize these chemically and genetically engineered molecules, we are using cellular, molecular, behavioral, and computational structural biology approaches. We expect these studies to provide us with a detailed and unique understanding of trophic activity in the brain. Our goal is to investigate how precise ligand-receptor interactions regulate specific intracellular signaling pathways and cell function in key brain regions and behavior.

Research is conducted at two locations, the USD Lee Med building in Vermillion and the Research labs of the Veterans Administration Health System in Sioux Falls.

Research in the lab is supported by funding from the National Institute of Mental Health, the Alzheimer's Association, the National Institute on Aging, and the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.

The Importance of Trophic Factors

Trophic factors are needed to maintain healthy neuronal connections; the lack of them can cause a neuron to appear and function poorly.