Kimberly J. Dougherty

19 mars 2021

Department of Neurobiology and Anatomy, Drexel University College of Medicine, USA

Title : Excitatory Interneurons Linked to Locomotor Rhythm Generation : Circuit Changes during Postnatal Development and Following SCI

Invité par le PhD Program Neuroschool (Benoist Drouillas, INT P3M)

Summary : To initiate and support locomotion, rhythm generating neurons in the spinal cord convert descending input into a rhythmic signal which is conveyed to downstream neurons, leading to the recruitment of motor neurons and the activation of muscles. Although neurons necessary for various aspects of locomotion have been identified, spinal rhythm generating remained elusive. Neurons expressing the transcription factor Shox2 during development are a candidate rhythm generating population. These neurons have many characteristics of rhythm generating neurons and genetic silencing of the population leads to an effect on the locomotor rhythm. More recent work aimed at determining mechanisms underlying spinal rhythmogenesis has focused on network activity and interconnectivity within the Shox2 neuron population and findings suggest that there may be a shift in rhythmic mechanisms with circuit maturation. Additionally, the excitability of Shox2 neurons does not change after spinal cord injury but the sensory afferent information to them is substantially altered after injury and by therapeutic intervention. By determining both the developmental and experience-related changes in the properties and connectivity of Shox2 neurons, targets for restoration of locomotor function following injury and in developmental motor disorders may be revealed.

Bio : Kim Dougherty performed her PhD thesis research in Shawn Hochman’s lab at Emory University, where she determined the properties of inhibitory dorsal horn neurons involved in pain processing and plasticity that occurs after spinal cord injury. She received her PhD in Neuroscience in 2006 and moved to Stockholm, Sweden for a postdoc in Ole Kiehn’s lab at the Karolinska Institute. There, she worked on spinal locomotor circuits and developed an interest in locomotor rhythm generation. She started her own lab as an Assistant Professor at Drexel University College of Medicine in Philadelphia in 2014, where she continues to probe spinal circuitry with a focus on rhythm generation and more recently, mechanisms of therapies (and potential therapies) to enhance locomotion after spinal cord injury. She was promoted to Associate Professor last year. She is currently funded by the National Institutes of Health for projects on both locomotor rhythmicity and spinal cord injury. She is also highly involved in the Neuroscience Graduate Program at Drexel as the co-chair of admissions committee, a current member of 12 PhD thesis committees, and a lecturer in 3 graduate courses.

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