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Neuron-Glia Interactions Interest Group

Upcoming Lecture of Interest

March 10, 2021 — 3:00 p.m. ET
"Myelin Plasticity in Health and Disease"
Tobias D. Merson, PhD
Australian Regenerative Medicine Institute, Monash University, Melbourne, Australia.

Lecture summary: The myelination of axons is a critical evolutionary adaptation required for the normal development and function of the vertebrate CNS. Our understanding of the mechanisms that regulate myelin formation has progressed markedly over the last decade. In my presentation, I will discuss studies from my own laboratory that have provided insight into the role of neuronal activity in regulating the population of axons selected for myelination. We revealed that neuronal activity plays a key role in postnatal myelination and provide evidence that behavioral interventions that stimulate network activity aid remyelination following a demyelinating insult. Additionally, we have demonstrated that remyelination is mediated by at least two distinct populations of progenitor cells in the adult brain. We show that the quality of myelin produced by oligodendrocytes that derive from distinct progenitor lineages differ markedly. These differences have important implications for the restoration of axonal function after a demyelinating insult and may be pertinent to recovery in people living with multiple sclerosis. Finally, I describe an emerging focus on myelin plasticity as a novel mechanism of learning and memory, highlighting studies that we are conducting to explore this fascinating and rapidly evolving area of myelin biology.

About the speaker: Tobias Merson studied biochemistry and genetics at the University of Queensland and undertook his PhD on adult neurogenesis at the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute in Melbourne, Australia. He was awarded a highly competitive National Health and Medical Research Council/MS Research Australia fellowship (2007-10) for postdoctoral research at the Howard Florey Institute on myelin repair mechanisms. In 2013, he was promoted to laboratory head and in 2016 was awarded a prestigious Australian Research Council Future Fellowship to establish his group at the Australian Regenerative Medicine Institute at Monash University. His laboratory focuses on the interaction between neurons and oligodendrocytes, with a major focus on the mechanisms that regulate myelination in health and disease.

About Neuron-Glia Interactions 

Research on brain function at a cellular level focuses on neurons, but non-neuronal cells, called glia, regulate neuronal communication and function in diverse ways. All types of glial cells can detect functional activity in neurons and influence it. Astrocytes regulate synaptic transmission; oligodendrocytes determine the speed of impulse transmission through axons, and microglia prune synapses in accordance with functional activity. Glial cells are the cause of many neurological disorders, including brain cancer, multiple sclerosis, and they are the first responders to brain injury and disease. Recently glia have been implicated in many disorders previously presumed to be exclusively neuronal, such as chronic pain, epilepsy, ALS, and Alzheimer’s—and glia are also implicated in psychiatric illnesses such as major depression and schizophrenia. This rapidly emerging science cuts across all traditionally separate fields of research on brain function at the NIH, but there is no forum to bring together the diverse community of NIH researchers to learn the latest research on neuron-glia interactions and share their own data with each other.

The Neuron-Glia Interest group will serve to act as a platform for discussion and to open dialog between trans-NIH researchers investigating the relationships of neuron and glia. This group will also serve those who are seeking information and education relating to these relationships applying to their own research on processes of development, basic biological functions and mechanisms, and plasticity; in addition to diseases models and pathology.

To encourage mentoring and career-development, post-docs and students will have the opportunity to present their work to the group as part of the monthly seminar series. This is in addition to hosting speakers from outside NIH, which will further diversify the breadth of information that the NIH community will be exposed to. The seminars will be followed by a round-table discussion with the speaker. This will aid in the exchange and understanding of the latest information and research techniques in the field.

This special interest group will sponsor symposia and satellite meetings in conjunction with the NIH-research festival and other locally-held extramural conferences.

Please click here for a list of upcoming seminars. (*soon to be updated)

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The page was last updated on Tuesday, March 2, 2021 - 3:08pm