Dr. Jennifer Morgan studies the cellular and molecular mechanisms by which neurons communicate with each other at synapses within the vertebrate central nervous system. Current research goals involve identifying the fundamental mechanisms by which neurotransmission is maintained via local synaptic vesicle trafficking. Dr. Morgan also studies how synaptic transmission is restored after spinal cord injury, in particular the contributions that neuronal survival, axon and synapse regeneration, and compensatory neurite plasticity make toward restoring locomotor behaviors.
MORGAN LAB RESEARCH STATEMENT
One ongoing project involves identifying the fundamental molecular mechanisms by which neurotransmission is maintained via local synaptic vesicle trafficking. As part of this project, we have developed a synaptic model for Parkinson’s Disease, and we are currently exploring the mechanisms underlying synaptic dysfunction associated with the disease. Another project involves understanding how neurotransmission can be restored after spinal cord injury. Here, we are specifically exploring how neuronal survival, axon and synapse regeneration, and other types of neural plasticity can contribute to restoring locomotor behavior after injury and how to improve the functional outcome.
For these projects, we use lampreys as a model system. Lampreys are early-evolved vertebrates, which possess a subset of very large neurons that can be identified across animals. These giant neurons are experimentally tractable and amenable to molecular manipulations both in the normal and regenerating state. To approach our questions, we utilize a variety of technical approaches including, candidate gene and transcriptome analyses, molecular perturbations, biochemistry, fluorescence imaging, histology, electron microscopy, electrophysiology, and behavior.
Please feel free to contact us if you have any questions about our research projects.
Jennifer R. Morgan, Ph.D.
Office: Rowe 411
Lab: Rowe 408-410
Susan M. Banks, Ph.D.
Stephanie M. Fogerson