Cellular and molecular biology of brain development.
Research in my lab is focused on the cellular and molecular biology of brain development, injury and regeneration. Currently two lines of research are being explored. The first is injury-induced neuronal regeneration in teleost fish; the second is ocular morphogenesis in mammals.
A hallmark of the human brain is that neural injuries are permanent; destroyed neurons are never replaced. In contrast, in the retina of the teleost fish, neuronal death stimulates regenerative neurogenesis and replacement of the damaged tissue. We are interested in the cellular and molecular events that underlie this phenomenon. We use a variety of techniques, including microscopy, immunocytochemistry, organ culture and molecular biology, in an attempt to identify the molecules and genes that are critical in the response of mature neurons to injury and the stimulation of neurogenesis.
As an example of the second line of research in my lab, we are currently investigating early eye and retinal development in a line of transgenic mice that have an insertional mutation that results in ocular colobomas. This research is a collaboration with the lab of William Richardson, Ph.D. at University College London, where the mice were originally identified. We are presently characterizing the embryonic and early postnatal development of the eye and retina in these animals as well as attempting to clone the gene that accounts for the phenotype.