Our ability to move is dependent upon the motoneurons in our spinal cord contacting our muscles. Thus it is critical that these motoneurons develop and make connections with muscle. Motoneuron diseases occur when these critical cells become dysfunctional or die.
Our lab studies how motoneurons develop and form synapses with the muscle. We focus down to the genetic, molecular, and cellular levels to learn what makes motoneurons develop and function. In our studies we use the vertebrate zebrafish as a model organism. This is due to the ability to study motoneurons in vivo in real time. We can also easily generate transgenic and mutant animals and image motoneurons in real time thus allowing us to address critical questions about these important neurons.
We have a number of different projects in the lab. Two major goals are to define the molecular and genetic pathways that control motoneuron development and to determine how motoneurons become dysfunctional in motoneuron disease particularly spinal muscular atrophy (SMA) and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS).
Explore this site and learn more about who we are and our research!