Developmental Neuroscience

Developmental neuroscience is undergoing rapid growth at OHSU with a number of new faculty and new projects. NGP faculty use innovative techniques and model systems to explore the mechanisms that control neural development, and to determine how errors in this process contribute to neurological defects and disease. Axonal transport, cell migration, gliogenesis, organogenesis, synapse formation, and regulation of development by transcription factors and microRNAs, to name a few, are under study in NGP labs.

Neural stem cells are being used to identify gene networks that regulate the differentiation of neurons and glia, while genetic manipulations in Drosophila and zebrafish are uncovering novel mechanisms that control cell fate and signal transduction in the developing nervous system.

Other groups are using transgenic mice and viral transfection approaches to examine how candidate genes regulate the formation of sensory and motor pathways in the brain, including morphogenesis of the inner ear and differentiation of the neuromuscular junction.

Live cell imaging and fluorescent labeling methods are being used to define the mechanisms that establish neuronal polarity in both isolated neurons and brain slice cultures, while embryonic culture assays are revealing how evolutionarily conserved receptors and signaling molecules control cell migration and axon outgrowth. Many laboratories are also exploring how mutations that affect specific developmental events can lead to congenital defects in the nervous system, with the goal of creating new diagnostic and therapeutic tools to treat neurological disease.

To find out more, follow the links to these NGP labs: