Our laboratory is directed toward both 1) understanding molecular controls and mechanisms over neuron subtype development, diversity, axon guidance-circuit formation, and degeneration-disease in the cerebral cortex [e.g. corticospinal motor neurons (CSMN) in motor neuron disease (ALS, HSPs, PLS), and associative circuitry in autism (ASD) and intellectual disability], and 2) applying developmental controls toward both brain and spinal cord regeneration [e.g. CSMN circuitry that degenerates in ALS-MND, and whose injury is central to loss of motor function in spinal cord injury] and directed differentiation for in vitro therapeutic and mechanistic screening.
The lab focuses on neocortical projection neuron development and subtype specification; new approaches to subtype-specific axonal growth cone biology; neural progenitor / “stem cell” biology; induction of adult neurogenesis (the birth of new neurons); and directed neuronal subtype differentiation via molecular manipulation of endogenous neural progenitors and pluripotent cells (ES/iPS). The same biology informs understanding of neuronal specificity of vulnerability in human neurodegenerative and developmental diseases. Relationships and application of cortical development to evolution, disease, and regeneration are frequent themes.