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Philip J. Horner, PhD

Professor of Neuroregeneration, Institute for Academic Medicine
Full Member, Research Institute
Scientific Director, Center for Neuroregeneration
Houston Methodist
Weill Cornell Medical College

Philip J. Horner, Ph.D., received a Ph.D. in physiology from Ohio State University in 1995. He did post-doctoral training with Dr. Fred H. Gage and became a staff scientist in the Lab of Genetics at the Salk Institute in 1998. In 2001, Dr. Horner joined the faculty of the Department of Neurological Surgery at the University of Washington in Seattle. He directed a laboratory at the UW South Lake Union Campus and was a member of the Institute for Stem Cell and Regenerative Medicine. In 2015, Dr. Horner became the Scientific Director of the Center for Neuroregenerative Medicine and the Co-Director, Center for Regenerative and Restorative Neurosurgery at the Houston Methodist Research Institute in Houston Texas. Dr. Horner’s research focuses on the role of glial and neural progenitor cells in the regeneration of the injured and aging nervous system.

Description of Research

The Horner lab is focused on the interaction between glial and neural cells following central nervous system challenge and specifically: 1) mechanisms of adult stem cell-derived lesion remodeling/repair and 2) role of gliogenesis and gliosis in neural degeneration. Over the past decades, researchers have observed that the human brain and spinal cord retain a population of stem cells with the capacity to replace neurons and glia. However, during normal aging and following trauma or disease, the brain and spinal cord stem cells fail to replace needed circuitry. The Horner lab has been developing approaches to modify and amplify the fate of neural stem cells to increase cellular repair after spinal cord and brain injury. Together with electrical stimulation, the lab has shown that regeneration of neural circuitry offers hope for repair nervous system. Together with clinical research partners at Houston Methodist and our global partners, the Horner lab seeks to move from bench to bedside by engineering new neural circuits in people with chronic paralysis in order to restore hand function.  Neural regeneration strategies are also being applied to stroke, head injury, glaucoma and motor/cognitive decline associated with aging. 

Education & Training

, The Ohio State University
, The Salk Institute for Biological Studies
, University of Nevada, Reno

Microbubbles and ultrasound increase intraventricular polyplex gene transfer to the brain
Tan, JKY, Pham, B, Zong, Y, Perez, C, Maris, DO, Hemphill, A, Miao, CH, Matula, TJ, Mourad, PD, Wei, H, Sellers, DL, Horner, PJ & Pun, SH 2016, Journal of Controlled Release, vol 231, pp. 86-93. DOI:

Targeted axonal import (TAxI) peptide delivers functional proteins into spinal cord motor neurons after peripheral administration
Sellers, DL, Bergen, JM, Johnson, RN, Back, H, Ravits, JM, Horner, PJ & Pun, SH 2016, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, vol 113, no. 9, pp. 2514-2519. DOI:

Nano-Sized Sunflower Polycations As Effective Gene Transfer Vehicles
Cheng, Y, Wei, H, Tan, JKY, Peeler, DJ, Maris, DO, Sellers, DL, Horner, PJ & Pun, SH 2016, Small. DOI:

A cervical hemi-contusion spinal cord injury model for the investigation of novel therapeutics targeting proximal and distal forelimb functional recovery
Mondello, SE, Sunshine, MD, Fischedick, AE, Moritz, CT & Horner, PJ 2015, Journal of Neurotrauma, vol 32, no. 24, pp. 1994-2007. DOI:

Early astrocyte redistribution in the optic nerve precedes axonopathy in the DBA/2J mouse model of glaucoma
Cooper, ML, Crish, SD, Inman, DM, Horner, PJ & Calkins, DJ 2015, Experimental Eye Research. DOI:

Neural stem cells in the adult subventricular zone oxidize fatty acids to produce energy and support neurogenic activity
Stoll, EA, Makin, R, Sweet, IR, Trevelyan, AJ, Miwa, S, Horner, PJ & Turnbull, DM 2015, Stem Cells, vol 33, no. 7, pp. 2306-2319. DOI:

A functionalized, injectable hydrogel for localized drug delivery with tunable thermosensitivity: Synthesis and characterization of physical and toxicological properties
Elias, PZ, Liu, GW, Wei, H, Jensen, MC, Horner, PJ & Pun, SH 2015, Journal of Controlled Release, vol 208, pp. 76-84. DOI:

Guanidinylated block copolymers for gene transfer: A comparison with amine-based materials for invitro and invivo gene transfer efficiency
Choi, JL, Tan, JKY, Sellers, DL, Wei, H, Horner, PJ & Pun, SH 2015, Biomaterials, vol 54, pp. 87-96. DOI:

Mitochondrial morphology differences and mitophagy deficit in murine glaucomatous optic nerve
Coughlin, L, Morrison, RS, Horner, PJ & Inman, DM 2015, Investigative Ophthalmology and Visual Science, vol 56, no. 3, pp. 1437-1446. DOI:

MMP9-sensitive polymers mediate environmentally-responsive bivalirudin release and thrombin inhibition
Chu, DS, Sellers, DL, Bocek, MJ, Fischedick, AE, Horner, PJ & Pun, SH 2015, Biomaterials Science, vol 3, no. 1, pp. 41-45. DOI:

Poly(lactic-co-glycolic) acid microspheres encapsulated in Pluronic F-127 prolong hirudin delivery and improve functional recovery from a demyelination lesion
Sellers, DL, Kim, TH, Mount, CW, Pun, SH & Horner, PJ 2014, Biomaterials, vol 35, no. 31, pp. 8895-8902. DOI:

Therapeutic intraspinal stimulation to generate activity and promote long-term recovery
Mondello, SE, Kasten, MR, Horner, PJ & Moritz, CT 2014, Frontiers in Neuroscience, no. 8 FEB, 21. DOI:

Caudalized human iPSC-derived neural progenitor cells produce neurons and glia but fail to restore function in an early chronic spinal cord injury model
Nutt, SE, Chang, EA, Suhr, ST, Schlosser, LO, Mondello, SE, Moritz, CT, Cibelli, JB & Horner, PJ 2013, Experimental Neurology, vol 248, pp. 491-503. DOI:

The impact of age on oncogenic potential: Tumor-initiating cells and the brain microenvironment
Stoll, EA, Horner, PJ & Rostomily, RC 2013, Aging Cell, vol 12, no. 5, pp. 733-741. DOI:

Therapeutic intraspinal microstimulation improves forelimb function after cervical contusion injury
Kasten, MR, Sunshine, MD, Secrist, ES, Horner, PJ & Moritz, CT 2013, Journal of Neural Engineering, vol 10, no. 4, 044001. DOI:

a-Lipoic Acid Antioxidant Treatment Limits Glaucoma-Related Retinal Ganglion Cell Death and Dysfunction
Inman, DM, Lambert, WS, Calkins, DJ & Horner, PJ 2013, PLoS ONE, vol 8, no. 6, e65389. DOI:

Dual responsive, stabilized nanoparticles for efficient in vivo plasmid delivery
Wei, H, Volpatti, LR, Sellers, DL, Maris, DO, Andrews, IW, Hemphill, AS, Chan, LW, Chu, DSH, Horner, PJ & Pun, SH 2013, Angewandte Chemie - International Edition, vol 52, no. 20, pp. 5377-5381. DOI:

Fmr1 Transcript Isoforms: Association with Polyribosomes; Regional and Developmental Expression in Mouse Brain
Brackett, DM, Qing, F, Amieux, PS, Sellers, DL, Horner, PJ & Morris, DR 2013, PLoS ONE, vol 8, no. 3, e58296. DOI:

Remyelination reporter reveals prolonged refinement of spontaneously regenerated myelin
Powers, BE, Sellers, DL, Lovelett, EA, Cheung, W, Aalami, SP, Zapertov, N, Maris, DO & Horner, PJ 2013, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, vol 110, no. 10, pp. 4075-4080. DOI:

Melittin-grafted HPMA-oligolysine based copolymers for gene delivery
Schellinger, JG, Pahang, JA, Johnson, RN, Chu, DSH, Sellers, DL, Maris, DO, Convertine, AJ, Stayton, PS, Horner, PJ & Pun, SH 2013, Biomaterials, vol 34, no. 9, pp. 2318-2326. DOI: