There are known knowns. …There are known unknowns. …But there are also unknown unknowns. There are things we don’t know we don’t know. …it is the latter category that tend to be the difficult ones.
Neuroscientists study normal nervous system development and function, as well as disorders and diseases that cause abnormal nervous system development and function.
Understanding how a healthy nervous system develops and works to produce thought, emotion, and behavior and to regulate important body functions helps to shed light on problems that can lead to diseases or disorders of the nervous system.
The first research problem I delved into as a student in neuroscience was to study transcriptional regulation of neurodevelopment.
Figure 1. Embryonic development of mouse hippocampus
Radial Glial Cells (Left panel, green cells with long processes) are stems cells that reside in embryonic hippocampus that are critical for its development. Disruption of this cell type leads to abnormal hippocampal development (right panel).
In addition to studies of the normal processes of the nervous system, neuroscience includes studies of diseases and disorders.
Epilepsy is a chronic debilitating neurological disorder that the World Health Organization estimates affects 40-50 million people worldwide. In general, epilepsy is characterized by recurrent seizures that result from abnormal synchronous firing of populations of neurons. Epilepsy is often associated with cognitive and learning deficits, psychosocial problems, and sudden unexplained death.
My PhD research focus on mechanism in seizure generation and epileptogenesis.
Figure 2. Accelerated epilepsy development in transgenic mouse
Kindling is a model to study the normal to epileptic transformation of brain, i.e. epileptogenesis. A steeper increase in %Kindled indicates increased susceptibility to convulsive stimuli, which is observed after disruption of a important gene in brain (open circle vs closed circle).
Neuromodulators are substances that influence information processing and transfer within the nervous system. Regulating brain excitability through controlling endogenous neuromodulatory pathway in brain could potentially suppress seizure activity. How to control gene expression within these pathways in nervous system, especially in activated neurons, is also my field of research.
Figure 3. Neuromodulator up-regulation in brain after convulsive seizure
A neuromodulator gene that shows sporadic expression in hippocampus under resting status. Its expression dramatically increases after a convulsive seizure.
More research of mine can be found at Research Gate.