Ashok Kumar, Ph.D.

Kumar-Ashok-5572Assistant Professor

Department of Neuroscience
University of Florida
1149 Newell Drive
PO Box 100244
Gainesville, FL 32611-0244

Office:  (352) 392-4085
Lab: (352) 392-6863

Education:          Publications:

1992 Ph.D.
University of Lucknow/Dentral Drug Research Institute
Lucknow, India
1992-1994 Postdoctoral Fellowship
Central Drug Research Institute
Lucknow, India
1995-1997 Postdoctoral Fellowship
University of Illinois
Chicago, Illinois
1997-1999 Postdoctoral Fellowship
Yale University
New Haven, Connecticut

Key Words:  Aging; Calcium; Hippocampus; Learning, Memory; Synaptic Plasticity; Cell excitability; Exercise; Environmental enrichment

Research Summary:

Age associated memory impairment is a common condition characterized by symptoms of cognitive decline that occur as part of the normal aging process. However, there is enormous variability in the degree of cognitive impairments experienced throughout life, as some aged individuals retain strong cognitive skills. Age is the leading risk factor for Alzheimer’s disease, and the elderly population is rising. Age associated memory impairment is debilitating and affects productivity and quality of life. The rapid increase in age-related neurodegenerative diseases, including Alzheimer’s, will pose a considerable challenge to the health care industry and a huge financial and emotional burden on society. The preservation of cognitive function over the lifespan is becoming an increasingly important and demanding goal of aging research as our population continually ages. Thus, developing novel therapeutic approaches aimed at designing strategies to potentially prevent, delay or reverse the harmful effects of age-related neurodegenerative diseases, while promoting healthy aging, are becoming more critical and challenging to biomedical research.

Research Focus & Aims:

The overall goal of my research is the pursuit of a fundamental knowledge of mechanisms contributing to the age-associated decline in learning and memory function, and delineate the therapeutic potential of exercise, environmental enrichment, dietary restriction, and transcranial magnetic stimulation in preventing aged-induced cognitive-impairments. My research is directed towards understanding the mechanism(s) that underlie age-related changes in synaptic plasticity and cell excitability and the relationship between this senescent physiology and memory function. My work has helped to define the response of G-protein coupled receptors (cholinergic, glutamate metabotropic, and estrogen) and the role of Ca2+ sources in regulating cell excitability and synaptic plasticity in the hippocampus during aging. My recent research involves studies of how various interventions, such as environmental enrichment and exercise, act to restore or prevent age-associated impairments in hippocampal-dependent learning and memory and electrophysiological markers of brain aging.

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