Cellular and molecular determinants of myelination across the lifespan

Proper myelination allows for the fast, efficient transmission of nerve impulses which is important for the coordination of movement, integration sensory information and cognition functions. In the brain, oligodendrocytes are the cells that extend numerous processes that wrap nerve cell (neuron) processes in a compact myelin sheath. The overarching goal of my research program is to delineate the cellular mechanisms that underlie myelination across an organism's lifespan. Several interconnected research projects investigate different aspects of how myelination occurs in the brain, such as the regulation of gene expression in oligodendrocytes, the cellular communication between oligodendrocytes and neurons, and the impact of environmental factors. These projects use animal models to investigate these biological questions at the molecular level (e.g. DNA, RNA, proteins and lipids). New insights into how these molecules interact to regulate myelination has broader implications for brain development, aging and pathology. This will ultimately lead to better health outcomes for persons living with neurological disorders.