The goal of the Developmental Neurobiology Focus group is to provide a forum for the discussion and exchange of ideas relating to development of the nervous system, understanding the basis of congenital malformations of the nervous system and understanding how adverse environmental influences cause defects in brain development.
Development of the nervous system is characterized by a number of essential cellular processes. Neurons are generated and then migrate to their final resting place where they mature and differentiate. Upon differentiation, neurons send out axons to connect with targets either within the CNS or in the periphery. Once these crude connections are formed, more refined connections are sustained through activity dependent mechanisms. Each of these developmental processes is the subject of intense investigation. This research at the anatomical, physiological, cellular and molecular levels will lead to our understanding of how each of these developmental processes takes place, what mechanisms may be altered that lead to congenital abnormalities of the nervous system and how we can re-instate these processes for repair and regeneration of the diseased or damaged adult nervous system. Some specific developmental disorders of the nervous system being studied in our group are Downs syndrome, developmental mechanisms of schizophrenia, agenesis of the corpus callosum, holoprosencephaly, epilepsy, autism, and mood disorders. We are also studying how therapeutic drugs and drugs of abuse ingested by the mother may lead to defects in brain development.