My research group studies transcription factors and neurogenesis in the developing and adult mouse brain. Transcription factors are master regulators of gene expression that act together, in combination and sequentially, to activate or repress genetic programs of cell cycle progression, cell migration, axon guidance, synapse formation, and neuronal fate and subtype specification. These fundamental programs in neurogenesis hold great scientific and medical interest, because of their significance for human brain development and disease. When all goes well, these developmental programs produce the extraordinary structural and functional complexity of the human brain and mind. But when development goes awry, for example, due to a genetic mutation, defects of these programs cause neuropsychiatric disorders - such as autism, epilepsy and mental retardation - often with devastating consequences for individuals, families and society. These human disorders are an important part of my clinical focus in pediatric and developmental neuropathology, and so my research and clinical work complement each other.
As an independent faculty investigator, I have followed the strands of transcription factors and neurogenesis into four main areas:
(1) cerebral cortex development
(2) adult neurogenesis
(3) cerebellum development, and
Our goals in future studies are to understand the pathogenesis of pediatric brain diseases, and to develop new therapeutic approaches based on neuroregeneration.