The discovery that neural stem cells continue to generate new neurons in the adult mammalian brain has raised the exciting prospect of targeting these cells to promote repair after nervous system injury or degeneration. Maximizing the therapeutic potential of neural stem cells requires an understanding of their basic biology and the unique CNS microenvironment that permits adult neurogenesis, known as the neurogenic niche. In the Kirby lab, we are especially interested in the neural stem cells that reside within the subgranular zone of the dentate gyrus, the neurogenic niche of the adult hippocampus. Hippocampal neural stem cells give rise to new granule neurons, which form functional synapses with neurons residing nearby in the dentate gyrus and projecting from distant brain regions. The integration of new neurons into existing circuitry is hypothesized to contribute to hippocampus-dependent learning and mood regulation.
My current research uses rodent models to investigate the interactions between hippocampal neural stem cells and their local environment, with the working hypothesis that neural stem cells engage in homeostatic functions beyond generating new neurons. A few such functions include growth factor secretion, maintenance of glutamate homeostasis, and cross-talk with resident niche glia. I make use of core techniques in histology and molecular biology to investigate these functions via rodent in vitro (mouse hippocampal neural stem cell culture) and in vivo (wild-type and transgenic mouse) models.
2017 - Departmental Fellowship, OSU Psychology Dept.
NeuroSC 3050 Lecture on CNS arterial and venous blood supply