The Saxena Lab opened its doors in August 2015! Please check back periodically for updates on projects and plans. See here for our facilities & resources and here for how to join us.
How do neurons form in vertebrate embryos and why are so few created in adults? The Saxena lab investigates these important questions in their natural, in vivo context by combining high-resolution live imaging with genetic, molecular, and/or physical perturbation. We aim to understand multicellular dynamics during stem cell migration and differentiation into neurons and, to do so, have developed an experimental system that embraces rapid advances in imaging technologies while maintaining long-term developmental and regenerative fidelity. The primary model organism used in the lab is the zebrafish.
Currently, much of our work is focused on olfactory sensory neurons, which are particularly unique in their regenerative capacity across species. In humans, for example, a completely new set of olfactory neurons is present almost every month. We have previously shown that one of the two main types of olfactory sensory neurons in zebrafish is derived from highly migratory neural crest stem cells. By revealing the origins of these neurons and the molecular and cellular processes driving the remarkable transformation from stem cell to sensory neuron in vivo in both embryos and adults, we intend to gain new insights into general mechanisms of neurogenesis and the potential for neuroregeneration.
6/27/16: Graduate student Vijay Warrier won a Travel Award for the Society for Developmental Biology Annual Meeting in Boston, MA! He will be presenting his poster "Quantitative characterization of collective stem cell migration during olfactory neurogenesis".
5/16/16: Graduate student Kristin Gallik was accepted to attend the Zebrafish Development and Genetics course at the Marine Biological Laboratory at Woods Hole! She also received an MBL scholarship and two UIC travel awards for this course and the SDB conference.
4/25/16: Undergraduate student Daniel Koshy was awarded a Liberal Arts and Sciences Undergraduate Research Initiative (LASURI) Award!
4/20/16: Graduate student Kristin Gallik won the prestigious university-wide Provost Deiss Award! She was one of 20 students campus-wide and the only student in Biological Sciences to do so.
4/18/16: Graduate student Kristin Gallik won the Biological Sciences Award for Excellence in Teaching!
4/13/16: The Saxena Lab, along with the Prince lab (University of Chicago), received a $250,000 CBC Catalyst Award grant!