Senior Scientist and Principal Investigator: Kelly Monk
When thinking of cells in the nervous system, most people first consider neurons. Yet diverse non-neuronal cells called glia represent at least half of cells in the human brain. Although glia have been historically understudied compared to neurons, it is clear that proper nervous system function depends on the coordinated activity of both neurons and glia. The long-term goal of our research is to understand the genetic, cellular, and molecular mechanisms that govern glial cell biology and to dissect how neuron-glial and glial-glial interactions contribute to nervous system development and function. We are particularly interested in myelinating glia — the subset of glia in both the central and peripheral nervous systems that generate myelin.
Myelin is the multilayered membrane that insulates and protects axons in the vertebrate nervous system. Whereas myelin has been historically considered in the context of its key role in facilitating fast impulse propagation, this view is rapidly expanding, with myelin and myelinating glia also playing diverse and essential functions in nervous system development, plasticity, health, disease, and repair. However, despite its importance, the mechanisms that form, maintain, and regenerate myelin are incompletely understood. Moreover, how myelination is impacted by experience and how myelinating glia contribute to plasticity and behavior are almost completely mysterious. We use a combination of genetic and cellular approaches in zebrafish and mouse models to dissect the mechanisms that control glial cell biology and functional interactions between glia and neurons.
Current Lab Members
Senior Research Associate and Lab Manager
Senior Research Assistant
Monk Lab group photo 2018
Front row: Jiaxiang Li, Fernanda Coelho, Kelly Monk
Back row: Austin Forbes, Rory Morgan, Jiakun Chen, Amit Mogha
(Missing from photo: Grace Halsell-Vore)