- Research Program Mentor
MD/PhD Doctor of Medicine and of Philosophy candidate
Human interneuron (inhibitory cortical neurons) development; Cortical Development, Neural plasticity in the visual cortex. Extensive experience in mouse surgeries, immunohistochemistry, imaging and data analysis.
How does DNA modifications affect the development of inhibitory neurons in the brain?
An appropriate balance of inhibition and excitation is critical for proper brain function. Interneurons are the main inhibitory neuron in the mammalian brain. A deficit in the interneuron population, and subsequent reduction in inhibition, has been implicated in neurological disorders, such as autism and epilepsy. Thus, identifying mechanisms that are important for proper interneuron development is crucial to better understand how these neurological conditions arise. One mechanism that is thought to be implicated is cell-specific methylation patterns; interneurons have their own unique DNA methylation pattern that could affect their development. Students will work with me to quantify different subtypes of interneurons in the brains of transgenic mice that do not express a methylation enzyme. Without the enzyme that produces methylation, will the number of interneurons be affected? If the total number is unchanged, do these interneurons have abnormal structure or connectivity? To answer these questions, students will use ImageJ (a free imaging software) to analyze images I produced in the lab and quantify interneurons across various brain regions. Students can also expect to read and discuss research articles related to interneuron development, learn brain anatomy and how immunohistochemistry can be used to answer research questions in neuroscience.