In celebration of Research Week, Vollum Institute co-director Kelly Monk, Ph.D. shared insights on her lab's recent discoveries about brain biology and neurological disease using a popular aquarium fish — zebrafish.
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. 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.