Habecker Lab


Our lab is focused on understanding the changes that occur in cardiac nerves after myocardial infarction (a heart attack). The pictures below show nerves are blocked from growing into the scar after MI (left), but knocking out the protein PTPσ allows the nerves to grow into the scar (right).

Nerve cells

Treating sympathetic neurons with nerve growth factor stimulates phosphorylation of STAT3 on serine 727 and increases nerve regeneration.

Lab staff at microscope looking at nerve cells
chromatograph from cardiac tissue
Dr. Woodward using HPLC to quantify NE from nerves in the heart. We use mass spec to quantify ACh content from nerves in the heart. The figure above is a sample chromatograph of NE from cardiac tissue.
Dr. Woodward doing HPLC analysis
Samples are loaded into a tray for automated HPLC analysis

The stellate ganglion contains most of the sympathetic neurons controlling the heart. The ganglia below are stained for ChAT (green), TH (red), and Hoechst (blue).Neurons in control ganglia make mainly TH (left), although nerve fibers in the ganglion contain ChAT. After MI (right) many neurons in the stellate express both TH and ChAT.

ChAT ganglia

Meet the lab

Beth Habecker at Crater Lake

Beth Habecker, Ph.D. - Dr. Habecker received her B.A. from Spring Arbor University (Chemistry/Biology) in Michigan before moving to Seattle for grad school. After finishing a PhD in Pharmacology at UW, she did post-doctoral work in Neuroscience at Case Western and then NIH before joining the faculty at OHSU.

Bill Woodward working at HPLC machine

Bill Woodward, Ph.D. - Dr. Woodward received a B.A. from Oberlin College in Ohio (Chemistry/Biology), and then his PhD in Biochemistry from the U of Oregon in Eugene. Bill has remained a life-long Ducks fan, despite a sojourn to Boston for post-doctoral work at Harvard Medical School, prior to joining the faculty at OHSU. Bill is Emeritus Professor of Neurology, and resident expert in catecholamine chemistry.

Ryan Gardner holding watermelon

Ryan Gardner, Ph.D. - Dr. Gardner received his B.A. from the University of Colorado before coming to OHSU where he earned his Ph.D. working in the Habecker lab.  His current work involves understanding sympathetic nerve regeneration following cardiac ischemia/reperfusion injury, and how sympathetic innervation alters cardiac rhythm dynamics.