Brain Awareness Lecture: Zebrafish and the Secret to Brain Development

May 5, 2021
12 p.m. to 1:30 p.m.

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In celebration of Research Week, OHSU is proud to share the ground-breaking research of Professor Kelly Monk, Ph.D.

Zebrafish, a popular aquarium fish, can reveal the inner workings of the nervous system, according to exciting research from OHSU Professor Kelly Monk, Ph.D. Dr. Monk will share insights on her team’s recent discoveries and how they are opening up opportunities to learn more about brain biology and neurological disease.

With their transparent bodies, zebrafish larvae provide a unique opportunity to see a living nervous system in action including all the different cell types that make up a functional brain. Although historically, studies of the nervous system have focused on neurons, neurons only represent about half of the brain. Dr. Monk and her team study the other half – a diverse group of cells called glia. Using sophisticated tools, Dr. Monk’s team is able to capture the birth and behaviors of several different glia in the brain including how they interact with each other and with neurons. Taking advantage of the fact that zebrafish live in water, Dr. Monk and her team are also able to perform large-scale chemical screens to find drugs that impact nervous system development and health. Understanding the role glia play in the brain will be key to understanding devastating neurological diseases like multiple sclerosis, peripheral neuropathies, Alzheimer’s, and autism.

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