Nervous systems mature over long time spans. Even though we are born with most of our neurons, it takes years to fully develop mature behaviors like movement, coordination, and decision-making. Maturing and fully mature neurons also become susceptible to diseases like schizophrenia, Alzheimer’s, and Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) which do not affect young neurons, even in individuals who carry causative genetic mutations.
Our lab studies the changes that individual neurons undergo as the nervous system matures, both in vivo in mice and in vitro in stem cell-derived neurons. We are interested in a wide range of questions, such as: What are the transcriptional and chromatin regulatory mechanisms that control maturation? How can stem cell derived neurons acquire mature states in culture? Why are mature neurons more susceptible to neurological diseases such as ALS, Alzheimer’s, and Parkinson’s than nascent neurons.