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Department of Neurobiology and Anatomy Cellular and Developmental Neurobiology Research

The research program in cellular neuroscience seeks to better understand the fundamental mechanisms used by axons and dendrites to establish connections during development and regeneration of the nervous system. The development and maintenance of the nervous system involves signaling initiated by several families of growth factors, as well as selective pruning of mistargeted axons and the programmed death of particular neurons that are overproduced within the embryo.

There is also strong interest in the cellular mechanisms of neuronal migration, as well as the cytoskeletal pathways the go awry during neurodegenerative disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease, Hereditary Spastic Paraplegia, Autism and Gulf War Illness.  Investigators are using a variety of contemporary biochemical, molecular, and computer-assisted imaging techniques to elucidate these developmental and pathological mechanisms.

Research efforts are focused on several key areas. Studies on the cytoskeleton of the neuron are a principal strength of the program (Drs. Baas and Qiang), and are relevant to understanding the mechanisms of neurodegenerative disorders and restoration of function following injury.   Neuronal migration and related neurodevelopment orders are another key strength (Dr. Toyo-oka), as are the cell biology of spinal cord injury (Drs. Fischer, Tom, Qiang, and Lane) and  traumatic brain injury (Dr. Raghupathi). 

All of the research in the program is conducted with the goal of providing a mechanistic understanding of basic cellular processes relevant to nervous system development and maintenance. The ultimate aim of our research is to stimulate the development of new clinical strategies for treating neuropathies and promoting regeneration of the injured nervous system.

Learn more about cellular neuroscience research.

Enlarged neuronet, glassy texture.