The spinal cord contains neural circuitry for controlling movement, but the developmental processes and cellular networks that regulate the intricate patterns of muscle activation that underlie motor behaviors are poorly understood. We approach this question at multiple levels using methods founded in genetics, cell and molecular biology, and neuroscience. In project area I, we investigate the regulatory mechanisms that control gene expression at a transcriptional and post transcriptional level within neuron subtypes. In project area II, we examine the cell-cell signaling mechanisms that control axonal growth to form the underlying circuits for motor behaviors. In project area III, we investigate the circuit logic of the premotor neurons that coordinate the timing and pattern of motor neuron activity needed to perform complex motor behaviors as we interact with our environment. In project area IV, we study the molecular basis of motor degeneration and methods to restore motor function following injury.
This work is supported in part by the National Institutes of Health, the Reeve Foundation, the Neilsen Foundation, and the Marshall Foundation.