From brain development to brain regeneration
One of the fundamental questions in neurobiology focuses on how neural stem cells build and repair the brain. In my lab, we use animal and primary cell culture models as well as cellular and molecular techniques to answer how neural stem cells generate their progeny, such as neurons and oligodendrocytes, in the developing brain. Specifically, we are investigating how neural stem cells are regulated by: 1) interactions with neighboring cells, such as inhibitory interneurons, and 2) autism-risk epigenetic genes. We are also investigating how autism spectrum disorder (ASD) risk epigenetic genes affect the development of the head (neural cranium), which is often perturbed in ASD. Our goal is to use the lessons learned from normal brain development to design novel therapies for neurodevelopmental and neurological disorders. In this light, we are investigating the effect of developmentally important interneuron-secreted cytokines on neural precursors in normal and injured adult murine brain. We are using mouse models of Multiple Sclerosis to assess the production of oligodendrocyte lineage cells and/or new myelin using transgenic animals for enhanced remyelination and regeneration.