The Krencik lab is specifically focused on understanding the functional relationship of human neurons and astrocytes in normal and injured states. We employ novel three-dimensional human pluripotent stem cell-based culture techniques, optogenetic methods, electrophysiology, transplantations and molecular/biochemical approaches to answer vital questions and accelerate progress in neuroregeneration including cellular engraftment therapy and drug discovery. In addition, we work with the Neurosurgery Department and other institutions at the Texas Medical Center with the goal of translating innovative neuroscience research discoveries into clinical therapies for restoration of the nervous system after injury and disease.
Dr. Krencik received his PhD in neuroscience at the University of Wisconsin-Madison under the supervision of Dr. Su-Chun Zhang. During this time, he devised the first cellular system for the efficient generation of human glial progenitors and astrocyte subtypes from pluripotent stem cells and characterized their functionality. This system has been experimentally utilized for cellular replacement therapy to promote learning and memory and to improve the maturity of neuronal subtypes. Furthermore, this powerful approach has become the high standard in research laboratories throughout the world to study various aspects of human disease. To understand how human astrocytes respond and signal to neurons in the context of neurodevelopmental disorders, Dr. Krencik conducted research as a postdoctoral fellow at the University of California-San Francisco under the mentorship of Dr. Erik Ullian and co-mentorship of Dr. David Rowitch. These studies led to several novel and important discoveries including the identification of a possible mechanism for astrocytes in controlling the timing of synaptic plasticity. More recently, he has been optimizing three dimensional in vitro cocultures of the human nervous system as an improved disease model and platform for neuroregeneration. His research goals and schemes have been summarized in numerous review articles and he enjoys interacting with the scientific community at conferences and through collaborative research projects.