My research focuses on glial migration and development at the interface between the central nervous system (CNS) and the peripheral nervous system (PNS). These regions, called transition zones, were thought to be selectively permeable to only axons and the establishment of the territories occupied by glial cells remained poorly described and understood. We are now starting to demonstrate that nervous system transition zones are occupied by dynamic glial cells and are precisely regulated over the course of nervous system development.
My lab uses zebrafish as a model organism and a combination of live imaging, genetic approaches and electron microscopy to investigate myelin plasticity at motor exit point (MEP) transition zones in the healthy and diseased nervous system in vivo .
We are particularly interested in a recently discovered cell population named motor exit point (MEP) glia, that are born in the neural tube and function in the peripheral nervous system. My postdoctoral work has identified the neural precursors that give rise to MEP glia and the mechanisms that regulate key aspects of their development, and I have demonstrated their central/peripheral hybrid nature. My lab’s goals are to further analyze MEP glia at the molecular, cellular, and ultrastructural levels and explore the feasibility of utilizing endogenous peripheral glia to repair the demyelinated spinal cord and conversely, CNS glia to repair peripheral nerves.