The Vollum Institute congratulates Jiaxing Li, postdoctoral fellow in Kelly Monk’s lab, whose grant investigating synapse assembly and disassembly in oligodendrocyte precursor cells was recently funded by the National Multiple Sclerosis Society. Li and his team are working to understand the physical properties of synapses, or points of communication, between nerve cells and the oligodendrocytes which generate the myelin that surrounds and protects them. The research focuses on how these connections are established and modified, and what MS-related genes may be important. Li’s team is addressing these questions using zebrafish, which have myelin similar to that in mammals, and whose embryos are transparent, thus allowing easy real-time visualization of synapse structures in living fish. Knowledge about how oligodendrocytes and nerve cells communicate — and how this communication affects myelin formation — may identify new ways to enhance myelin repair in MS.
The MS Society offers these highly competitive postdoctoral fellowships to exceptional early career researchers with M.D., Ph.D. or equivalent degrees to enhance the likelihood that the trainee will perform meaningful and independent research relevant to MS in the future.