The brain has billions of cells of which only 30 percent are neurons. Astrocytes are the predominant cell type of the remaining 70 percent. Surprisingly, these cells have not been studied in as much detail as neurons have.
The laboratory of Dr. Benjamin Deneen is in part dedicated to filling this gap of knowledge about the astrocyte and other glial cells in the Central Nervour System.
“We study the molecular and cellular mechanisms that control the generation and differentiation of glial cells, which are associated with numerous neurological disorders and malignancies. We use prospective isolation of stem cell populations from different stages of embryonic spinal cord, coupled with microarray analysis to identified a family of transcription factors that controls the specification of glial cell identity,” said Deneen.