Pennsylvania State University, Microbiology, B.S., 1980;
University of Miami School of Medicine, Microbiology, Ph.D., 1984
My laboratory takes a molecular genetic approach to obtain a better understanding of the nervous system. In pursuit of these interests, we take advantage of the increasingly sophisticated techniques available to mouse geneticists that allows us to generate intricate mouse models. The detailed analyses of mouse models of disease have proven to be extremely valuable tools for understanding human disorders. These efforts have resulted in the better understanding of genes responsible for human genetic disorders and the generation of authentic models of human diseases. Additionally, the "phenocopying" of particular traits of a syndrome have proven to be very useful. Our laboratory is focusing considerable effort on the generation and analysis of mouse models of neurological disorders with the expectation that they will continue to provide substantial benefit. In particular, we are exploiting techniques that allow for the controlled activation or inactivation of predetermined genes in a spatially restricted manner. These powerful in vivo approaches will assist us in our analysis of neurological disease processes.
We are particularly interested in neurological disorders that alter the interactions of myelinating glial cells with axons. Axo-glial interactions play a critical role in the formation and maintenance of the nervous system, such that a disruption in these contacts results in severe neurological dysfunction. For example, focal immune-mediated demyelination of the central nervous system is the hallmark of multiple sclerosis and alterations to the peripheral nerve myelin sheath are the cause of the peripheral neuropathies Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease and Guillain-Barre syndrome. The generation and analysis of mouse models of these and other neurological disorders will not only provide insight into the disease process, but will also make available model systems that will assist in the rational design of therapeutic strategies for these disorders.