Photo of Kelly Monk, Ph.D.

Kelly Monk Ph.D.

  •      (503) 494-2976
    • Professor Vollum Institute
    • Co-Director and Senior Scientist Vollum Institute
    • Program Director Neuroscience Graduate Program School of Medicine
    • Neuroscience Graduate Program School of Medicine

Kelly Monk is a senior scientist and co-director of the Vollum Institute. After earning her B.S. degree in Biochemistry from Elmira College in 2001, Monk pursued doctoral studies at the University of Cincinnati and was awarded her Ph.D. in Cell Biology in 2006. She did postdoctoral training in the lab of William Talbot at Stanford University School of Medicine. In 2011, she was appointed as an assistant professor in the Department of Developmental Biology at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, and was promoted to associate professor in 2016. Monk joined the Vollum Institute in 2017 and was named director of the Vollum/OHSU Neuroscience Graduate Program in 2018.

The myelin sheath surrounding axons is one of the most exquisite examples of a specialized cell-cell interaction in the vertebrate nervous system. Myelin is formed by glial cells called oligodendrocytes in the central nervous system and Schwann cells in the peripheral nervous system. These cells associate with axons, and elaborate massive amounts of cytoplasm, ultimately wrapping axons to form the myelin sheath. While progress has been made to determine how glial cells make myelin, there is still much we do not understand.

How do glial cells transition from simple axonal ensheathment to membrane spiraling? What are the signals between glial cells and axons that regulate myelination? How is myelin maintained once it is formed? When myelin regenerates in disease or after injury, do the same developmental pathways that regulate myelination regulate remyelination? Or are there additional pathways necessary for this process, specific to adult tissue?

The Monk lab uses mouse and zebrafish models to better understand how myelinated axons are formed, maintained, and regenerated.

Areas of interest

  • Glial cell biology
  • Neuron-glial interactions
  • Glial-glial interactions
  • Myelination and remyelination
  • Zebrafish


  • B.S., Elmira College, Elmira New York 2001
  • Ph.D., University of Cincinnati, Cincinnati Ohio 2006

Honors and awards

  • NIH Bridging Interdisciplinary Research Careers in Women’s Health (BIRCWH) Scholar Award (2012)
  • Washington University Outstanding Faculty Mentor Award (2015)
  • American Society for Cell Biology Emerging Leader Prize Finalist (2015)
  • Washington University Distinguished Faculty Award (2016)
  • National Multiple Sclerosis Society Harry Weaver Neuroscience Scholar Award (2016)


  • "Regulation of mitochondria-dynactin interaction and mitochondrial retrograde transport in axons" eLife April 17 2017
  • "Dynein/dynactin is necessary for anterograde transport of Mbp mRNA in oligodendrocytes and for myelination in vivo" Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America October 24 2017
  • "Dissecting signaling and functions of adhesion G protein-coupled receptors" Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences December 1 2012
  • "Analysis of myelinated axon formation in zebrafish" Methods in Cell Biology January 1 2017
  • "The xenoestrogen bisphenol a induces inappropriate androgen receptor activation and mitogenesis in prostatic adenocarcinoma cells" Molecular Cancer Therapeutics May 1 2002
  • "The Adhesion GPCR GPR126 Has Distinct, Domain-Dependent Functions in Schwann Cell Development Mediated by Interaction with Laminin-211" Neuron January 1 2015
  • "Adhesion G protein-coupled receptors" Molecular Pharmacology September 1 2015
  • "Adhesion GPCRs as a putative class of metabotropic mechanosensors"  November 1 2016
  • "New insights on schwann cell development" GLIA August 1 2015
  • "Gpr126/Adgrg6 has Schwann cell autonomous and nonautonomous functions in peripheral nerve injury and repair" Journal of Neuroscience December 7 2016
  • "An anti-inflammatory nod-like receptor is required for microglia development" Cell Reports December 12 2013
  • "Neurofibromin-deficient Schwann cells secrete a potent migratory stimulus for NF1+/- mast cells" Journal of Clinical Investigation December 1 2003
  • "Gpr126/Adgrg6 deletion in cartilage models idiopathic scoliosis and pectus excavatum in mice" Human Molecular Genetics August 1 2015
  • "A Tethered Agonist within the Ectodomain Activates the Adhesion G Protein-Coupled Receptors GPR126 and GPR133" Cell Reports January 1 2015
  • "Tethered agonists" Journal of Receptor and Signal Transduction Research September 11 2015
  • "Structural Basis for Regulation of GPR56/ADGRG1 by Its Alternatively Spliced Extracellular Domains" Neuron September 21 2016
  • "Model organisms in G protein-coupled receptor research" Molecular Pharmacology September 1 2015
  • "How to wake a giant" Oncotarget January 1 2015
  • "Unwrapping the unappreciated" Current Opinion in Neurobiology December 1 2017
  • "A G protein-coupled receptor is essential for schwann cells to initiate myelination" Science September 18 2009
  • "The scales and tales of myelination" Brain Research January 1 2016
  • "Defining the gene repertoire and spatiotemporal expression profiles of adhesion G protein-coupled receptors in zebrafish" BMC Genomics February 8 2015
  • "Neurobiology" Current Biology January 1 2015
  • "Genetic dissection of myelinated axons in zebrafish" Current Opinion in Neurobiology October 1 2009
  • "Erratum" Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America January 21 2014
  • "The adhesion GPCR Gpr56 regulates oligodendrocyte development via interactions with Gα12/13 and RhoA" Nature Communications January 21 2015
  • "The adhesion G protein-coupled receptor GPR56 is a cell-autonomous regulator of oligodendrocyte development" Nature Communications January 21 2015
  • "A Tethered Agonist within the Ectodomain Activates the Adhesion G Protein-Coupled Receptors GPR126 and GPR133" Cell Reports January 1 2014
  • "Perinatal epidermal growth factor receptor blockade prevents peripheral nerve disruption in a mouse model reminiscent of benign World Health Organization grade I neurofibroma" American Journal of Pathology January 1 2006
  • "G Protein-Coupled Receptors in Myelinating Glia" Trends in Pharmacological Sciences November 1 2016

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