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Project title: Investigating the molecular mechanisms that regulate phenotype and network integration of regenerated neurons after spinal cord injury.
Our central nervous system’s (CNS) capacity for self-repair is very limited and developing ways to improve outcomes in spinal cord injury patients remains a key challenge in biomedical science.
Contrary to humans, zebrafish can make new nerve cells following spinal cord injury which helps them to regain lost function. Studying how these organisms respond to injury will help us to develop interventions to modify our own nervous system’s injury response.
Whilst extensive research has been conducted on the cellular and molecular mechanisms that lead to new nerve cell generation, it remains unclear whether the inflammatory environment that these cells are born into after injury affects their ability to develop the correct structure, and to become part of the spinal cord’s information transmission networks. Using larval zebrafish, which are small and almost completely transparent, we can use cutting-edge microscopy methods to study these questions.
In this project, I aim to first investigate the structure of nerve cells born after brain injury. Next, I will study the network integration of nerve cells in intact and injured animals. Lastly, state-of-the-art genetic techniques will be used to alter the inflammatory response to injury. Together, this will give insight into the pathways that regulate the development of new nerve cells after spinal cord injury.
Awarded: Carnegie - Caledonian PhD Scholarship
Field: Biological Sciences
University: University of Edinburgh