Robert Skoff, PhD

JOINT / ADJUNCT:            CMMG/ Neurology

The Major research interest of the Skoff laboratory involves the research of proteins in the myelin sheath that are critical for normal human function. The Skoff lab studies a protein, proteolipid protein, in myelin that is often mutated in humans and is fatal. Using molecular and cell biological techniques, the Skoff lab studies the mechanisms by which mutations in this protein lead to cell death and finally death. The lab has available for study transgenic mice that mimic closely a human developmental disease.

The Skoff lab also studies sexual dimorphism of oligodendrocytes, the myelin forming cells in the central nervous system. Their laboratory is the first in the world to demonstrate morphological and functional differences in male and female oligodendrocytes. These cells are destroyed in multiple sclerosis. However, the pattern of destruction in women and men is quite different. The lab’s analyses of these differences may shed light on the cellular basis for the differences in MS lesions between men and women.

The Skoff laboratory utilizes different molecular and cell biology techniques to study cell lineages and the regulation of myelin formation. These techniques include in situ hybridization, tissue culture, immunocytochemistry, cell transfections, myelin protein synthesis and targeting using enhanced green fluorescent protein as a marker protein, construction of point mutations in myelin protein genes, etc.
Graduate students in the Skoff Laboratory have been intricately involved with all projects. The most recent graduates from the Skoff laboratory were Drs. Mirela Cerghet, Muthulekha Swamydas, and Maryann Williamson.