Studies of the events of central nervous system (CNS) development contribute not only to our understanding of developmental processes, but also lay foundations for understanding pathological conditions. Many individual factors are known to play key roles in CNS development, including extracellular matrix molecules, trophic factors, cytokines and individual cellular populations.
The interaction of such factors and cells mediate developmental events to prompt precise development of a functional, mature CNS, and while pathological events are not necessarily identical to those in development, understanding regulation and function in a "defined" physiological developmental situation will provide an understanding of possible regulation and function in pathology.
The research focus of my laboratory is to understand the underlying cellular and molecular mechanisms that mediate neuronal death and survival, critical events during CNS development and in pathological conditions such as spinal cord injury and neurodegenerative disorders. By using a well defined developmental model of avian spinal motoneuron death, we have begun to identify some of the "players" of neuronal cell death during CNS development.
These molecules and events also appear to have substantial roles in neurodegenerative disorders, and we believe that by developing ways to modulate these we may be able to provide protection for injured cells that would normally die and allow them to recover.