Brain Development and Repair
The Tessier-Lavigne laboratory investigates how neural circuits in the brain form during embryonic development. It also studies nerve cell responses to injury and the mechanisms underlying nerve cell death with the goal of developing therapies for brain injury and neurodegenerative disease.
The human brain comprises several hundred billion nerve cells or neurons, which are connected in an intricate and precise pattern to form the neural circuits that underlie all brain functions, including perception, memory and the control of movement. These circuits form during embryonic development when each neuron sends out a slender extension, the axon, to connect to an appropriate set of target cells. The Tessier-Lavigne lab is interested in how these neuronal axons locate their targets and how inappropriate axon projections are refined or eliminated by selective axon pruning (or degeneration) during development. They also study how these pruning mechanisms may also mediate the degeneration of axons in neurodegenerative diseases including Alzheimer's and Parkinson's diseases or following trauma, such as in stroke or spinal cord injury.