Julia Ganz, PhD
- East Lansing, Faculty, Training Faculty, Behavioral & Systems, Cellular & Molecular
Assistant Professor, Integrative Biology
Ph.D., 2009, Dresden University of Technology, Germany
East Lansing Campus
The goal of my research is to understand how stem cells generate a diverse and complex nervous system in vertebrates using zebrafish as my model system. My lab addresses this question focusing on the largest parts of the peripheral nervous system – the enteric nervous system (ENS). Zebrafish is an excellent model system to study ENS development due to their rapid development, genetic and embryological tractability, and optical transparency, which makes them very well-suited for in vivo imaging. The regulation of neuronal and glial differentiation in the ENS is poorly understood. Research in my lab strives to answer the following questions: are there distinct enteric progenitor populations and if so, do they generate different subtypes of neurons and/or glia? Which signaling pathways and genes regulate ENS development? My laboratory will identify novel genes regulating ENS development and determine their function to generate a comprehensive view of the regulation of ENS differentiation processes. Zebrafish have an unparalleled ability to regenerate their nervous system, and thus are very well-suited as a model to study regeneration. We will investigate whether the zebrafish ENS can regenerate after experimental ablation of subsets of enteric neurons or glia. And if so, how is this regeneration process regulated? This work will reveal whether specific stem cell populations might be responsible for regenerative capabilities and if they could be employed for therapeutic approaches.
Work in my laboratory will answer the fundamental question of cell lineage relationships in the ENS and how generation of these cell lineages is regulated during normal development, in situations that model human disease, and under regenerating conditions. I expect that we will uncover not only cellular, genetic, and molecular mechanisms underlying cell fate determination, but also contribute to developing therapeutic approaches using stem cells to repair enteric nervous system diseases.
Neurological effects of Fragile X Syndrome, regulation and modulation of neuronal excitability of thalamocortical circuits and interactions between basal ganglia and thalamic circuits.
Assistant Professor, Department of Pediatrics and Human Development; College of Human Medicine
Grand Rapids Campus
4012 Grand Rapids Research Center; 400 Monroe Ave NW; Grand Rapids, MI 49503
Cerebral cortex development: (e.g., neural development of sensory systems)
Neurophysiology and neuroplasticity within thalamocortical circuits. Neurophysiological alterations associated with Developmental disorders (fragile X syndrome, Autism), Epilepsy, and Parkinson's Disesase
Developmental exposure to drugs of abuse, development of the dopamine system, etiology and experimental therapeutics of Parkinson's disease
Development of neuroprotective pharmacological agents and strategies for the treatment of dopamine neurodegenerative disorders including Parkinson's Disease and Restless Legs Syndrome (RLS)
Neuromodulation, Neuroimaging of cortical function, Post-injury plasticity, Somatosensory system, Traumatic brain injury, Peripheral nerve injury, molecular probes, Optical imaging, Development of molecular-based neuromodulation technologies
Regenerate and redefine the interface between neurons and electrodes implanted in the brain, improving the understanding and control of device-tissue integration
Primary neuronal cultures, ex vivo and in vivo gene therapy, stereotaxic surgery, immunohistochemistry, neuro substructure microdissections, behavioral evaluations of motor performance, microscopy, long term deep brain stimulation platform
Structure-function relation of retinal ganglion cells undergoing glaucoma-related degeneration in the primate eye. Development of treatment strategies aimed at mitigating or preventing glaucomatous retinal ganglion cell degeneration
Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) technique development. Use neuroimaging to understand mild traumatic brain injury, normal aging, Alzheimer's disease (AD), AD risk reduction, and effects of hypertension on the brain.