Ph.D. (Doctor of Philosophy)
I have participated in NeuroIII (MDSC 619.03 - Development Neuroscience) since 2003, initially as a lecturer (2003-2005) and now as a Course Coordinator. I also lecture in other graduate (MBSC 755.40 - Introduction to Model Systems, MDSC 609.02 - Genes and Development, MDSC 641.01 - Advanced Genetics) and undergraduate (MDSC 402 - Oganismal Biology) courses. I was a member of the Neuroscience GEC from 2002-2007. I have supervised one high school student, 4 undergraduate summer students, 4 MSc students (2 graduated), 5 PhD students (2 graduated), 2 postdocs and 1 research associate since 2001.
Research and teaching
Research in my lab is focused on understanding how transcription factors regulate cell fate choices in the developing neocortex and retina, ensuring that appropriate numbers of the correct types of neuronal and glial cells are generated at their proper time and place.
Currently we focus on two families of transcription factors - the proneuronal genes Neurog1, Neurog2 and Ascl1, encoding basic-helix-loop-helix transcription factors, and members of the pleiomorphic adenoma gene (Plag) family, including Zac1, Plag1 and Plag-12, encoding zinc-finger transcription factors. We found that Neurog2 and Ascl1 have distinct functions at early and intermediate stages of development in the neocortex, and we have identified GSK3 as a key temporal regulator. We have also shown that Ras/ERK signaling regulated Neurog2 expression levels. Currently efforts are focused on identifying functional sites of intersection between signal transduction pathways and proneuronal gene function. We also study the Neurog2-regulated gene, Zac1, a tumor suppressor gene isolated in a substractive screen. We found that Zac1 is an important regulator of tissue size and cellular composition in the retina, acting through a novel feedback mechanism. We now have evidence that Zac1 regulates neuronal migration in the developing neocortex and are identifying downstream effectors.