YKavli January Meeting (Zoom)

Event Dates (Pacific Time): 
Jan 21, 2021 -
12:00pm to 1:00pm

Please Note: This meeting will be held online via Zoom.

The Kavli Institute for Brain and Mind (KIBM) hosts meetings for early career researchers to help foster their research community at UCSD. Our goal is to bring early career researchers (non-faculty) together so they can meet, network and share research. This event is open only to EARLY CAREER RESEARCHERS (grad student/ postdoc/ project scientist).


Laura Sancho Fernandez - The role of astrocytes in visual critical period plasticity

Bio: I’m a second year Postdoc in Nicola Allen’s lab at the Salk Institute (lab website https://allen.salk.edu/). I am interested in how the environment shapes neural circuitry and the role of glia in this.

Abstract: Visual critical periods are developmental time windows during which visual input is necessary for proper neural circuit formation; blocking input from one eye (monocular deprivation) during the CP results in reduced cortical responses to input from that eye. The timing of the CP coincides with and is regulated by the maturation of the extracellular matrix (ECM) around GABAergic interneurons. Astrocytes, a type of glial cell, are precisely poised to act as key regulators of the CP, as they have an instrumental role in regulating neural circuit development, synapse formation and maturation, and the ECM of neurons. Previous RNAseq work in the Allen lab has identified several astrocyte genes that potentially interact with neuronal ECMs and are differentially expressed at key developmental stages or after monocular deprivation or dark-rearing. The role of these candidate genes in orchestrating CP plasticity will be examined using in vivo viral methods, shedding light on how astrocytes can coordinate differential aspects of neuronal structural and functional plasticity.

Nicholas Nelson - Astrocyte Calcium Signaling in Chronic Pain

Bio: I'm a 4th year UCSD Biology PhD student in Axel Nimmerjahn's lab at the Salk Institute, my interests are primarily in how glia and inflammation shape nervous system function. I occasionally tweet about science and make mediocre jokes @yesitsnicholas.

Abstract: Chronic pain is a pervasive clinical disorder that effects at least 10% of the adult U.S. population. We are interested in the role of spinal cord astrocytes in the onset and maintenance of the glial inflammation and synaptic remodeling that underlies persistent pain resulting from nerve injuries. Using a sciatic nerve injury model of chronic pain in mice, we are able to visualize real time activation of astrocyte and neuronal activity through in vivo microscopy of the spinal cord, manipulate the genetic environment in adult animals by viral vector injections, perform post-mortem histology and transcriptomic analyses, and correlate these findings with behavioral nociception testing in the same animals. We thus seek to uncover basic roles of astrocytes in inflammation and synaptogenesis, investigated through the lens of a pervasive clinical disorder.

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Chairs: Robert Gallant, Carmine Chavez-Martinez