Kelly Monk, Ph.D.

Kelly Monk

Co-Director and Senior Scientist, Vollum Institute

Phone: 503-494-2976
Office: Vollum 3431A

Executive Assistant: Jennifer Beck

Monk Lab

View research papers on PubMed


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 under the mentorship of Nancy Ratner 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.

Summary of current research

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?

We use mouse and zebrafish models to better understand how myelinated axons are formed, maintained, and regenerated.

Li J, Miramontes TG, Czopka T, Monk KR. (2024) Synaptic input and Ca2+ activity in zebrafish oligodendrocyte precursor cells contribute to myelin sheath formation. Nat Neurosci. 27(2):219-231.

Chen J, Stork T, Kang Y, Nardone KAM, Auer F, Farrell RJ, Jay TR, Heo D, Sheehan A, Paton C, Nagel KI, Schoppik D, Monk KR, Freeman MR. (2024) Astrocyte growth is driven by the Tre1/S1pr1 phospholipid-binding G protein-coupled receptor. Neuron. 112(1):93-112.e10.

Doan RA, Monk KR. (2023) Dock1 acts cell-autonomously in Schwann cells to regulate the development, maintenance, and repair of peripheral myelin. bioRxiv. 2023.10.26.564271

Fazal SV, Mutschler C, Chen CZ, Turmaine M, Chen CY, Hsueh YP, Ibañez-Grau A, Loreto A, Casillas-Bajo A, Cabedo H, Franklin RJM, Barker RA, Monk KR, Steventon BJ, Coleman MP, Gomez-Sanchez JA, Arthur-Farraj P. (2023) SARM1 detection in myelinating glia: sarm1/Sarm1 is dispensable for PNS and CNS myelination in zebrafish and mice. Front Cell Neurosci. 17:1158388.

Häberlein F, Mingardo E, Merten N, Schulze Köhling NK, Reinoß P, Simon K, Japp A, Nagarajan B, Schrage R, Pegurier C, Gillard M, Monk KR, Odermatt B, Kostenis E, Gomeza J. (2022) Humanized zebrafish as a tractable tool for in vivo evaluation of pro-myelinating drugs. Cell Chem Biol. 29(10):1541-1555.e7.

Limbach LE, Penick RL, Casseday RS, Hyland MA, Pontillo EA, Ayele AN, Pitts KM, Ackerman SD, Harty BL, Herbert AL, Monk KR, Petersen SC. (2022) Peripheral nerve development in zebrafish requires muscle patterning by tcf15/paraxis. Dev Biol. 490:37-49.

Bebo BF Jr, Allegretta M, Landsman D, Zackowski KM, Brabazon F, Kostich WA, Coetzee T, Ng AV, Marrie RA, Monk KR, Bar-Or A, Whitacre CC. (2022) Pathways to cures for multiple sclerosis: A research roadmap. Mult Scler. 28(3):331-345.

Nagai J, Yu X, Papouin T, Cheong E, Freeman MR, Monk KR, Hastings MH, Haydon PG, Rowitch D, Shaham S, Khakh BS. (2021) Behaviorally consequential astrocytic regulation of neural circuits. Neuron. 109(4):576-596.

Gray RS, Gonzalez R, Ackerman SD, Minowa R, Griest JF, Bayrak MN, Troutwine B, Canter S, Monk KR, Sepich DS, Solnica-Krezel L. (2021) Postembryonic screen for mutations affecting spine development in zebrafish. Dev Biol. 471:18-33.

Chen J, Poskanzer KE, Freeman MR, Monk KR. (2020) Live-imaging of astrocyte morphogenesis and function in zebrafish neural circuits. Nature Neurosci. 23(10):1297-1306.

Ackerman SD, Luo R, Poitelon Y, Mogha A, Harty BL, D'Rozario M, Sanchez NE, Lakkaraju AKK, Gamble P, Li J, Qu J, MacEwan MR, Ray WZ, Aguzzi A, Feltri ML, Piao X, Monk KR. (2018) GPR56/ADGRG1 regulates development and maintenance of peripheral myelin. J. Exp. Med. 215:941-961.

Herbert AL, Fu MM, Drerup CM, Gray RS, Harty BL, Ackerman SD, O'Reilly-Pol T, Johnson SL, Nechiporuk AV, Barres BA, Monk KR. (2017) Dynein/dynactin is necessary for anterograde transport of Mbp mRNA in oligodendrocytes and for myelination in vivo. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 114:E9153-E9162.

Mogha A, Harty BL, Carlin D, Joseph J, Sanchez NE, Suter U, Piao X, Cavalli V, Monk KR. (2016) Gpr126/Adgrg6 has Schwann cell autonomous and nonautonomous functions in peripheral nerve injury and repair. J. Neurosci. 36:12351-12367.

Küffer A, Lakkaraju AK, Mogha A, Petersen SC, Airich K, Doucerain C, Marpakwar R, Bakirci P, Senatore A, Monnard A, Schiavi C, Nuvolone M, Grosshans B, Hornemann S, Bassilana F, Monk KR, Aguzzi A. (2016) The prion protein is an agonistic ligand of the G protein-coupled receptor Adgrg6. Nature 536:464-468.

Petersen SC, Luo R, Liebscher I, Giera S, Jeong SJ, Mogha A, Ghidinelli M, Feltri ML, Schöneberg T, Piao X, Monk KR. (2015) The adhesion GPCR GPR126 has distinct, domain-dependent functions in Schwann cell development mediated by interaction with Laminin-211. Neuron 85:755-769.

Ackerman SD, Garcia C, Piao X, Gutmann DH, Monk KR. (2015) The adhesion GPCR Gpr56 regulates oligodendrocyte development via interactions with Gα12/13 and RhoA. Nature Commun. 6:6122.

Liebscher I, Schön J, Petersen SC, Fischer L, Auerbach N, Demberg LM, Mogha A, Cöster M, Simon KU, Rothemund S, Monk KR, Schöneberg T. (2014) A tethered agonist within the ectodomain activates the adhesion G protein-coupled receptors GPR126 and GPR133. Cell Rep. 9:2018-2026.

Mogha A, Benesh AE, Patra C, Engel FB, Schöneberg T, Liebscher I, Monk KR. (2013) Gpr126 functions in Schwann cells to control differentiation and myelination via G-protein activation. J. Neurosci. 33:17976-17985.

Monk KR, Oshima K, Jörs S, Heller S, Talbot WS. (2011) Gpr126 is essential for peripheral nerve development and myelination in mammals. Development 138:2673-2680.

Monk KR, Naylor SG, Glenn TD, Mercurio S, Perlin JR, Dominguez C, Moens CB, Talbot WS. (2009) A G protein-coupled receptor is essential for Schwann cells to initiate myelination. Science 325:1402-1405.