Julia Ganz Publishes Foundational Research About Nervous System Development
Julia Ganz, who joined the Integrative Biology faculty this year, recently published a paper in the journal, Developmental Dynamics, about gene expression properties of stem cells in the enteric nervous system (ENS). Julia explained, "The ENS is the largest part of the peripheral nervous system and provides the intrinsic innervation of the gut regulating all essential gut functions. In this study, we identified heterogeneous ENS stem cell populations and their distinct spatial and temporal distribution during ENS development using zebrafish as a model."
This research lays the foundation for future studies on stem cell lineages and their regulation during nervous system development. According to Julia, "It has become more and more apparent that stem cell populations are heterogeneous during development. It is really important to identify these populations to be able to study how stem cell pools give rise to diverse neurons and g lia cells and how these steps are regulated during development. This is relevant also with regards to developing therapeutic approaches using stem cells to repair enteric nervous system diseases." Zebrafish are great models systems to address these questions as zebrafish embryos develop rapidly, are genetically tractable, and are optically transparent, which makes them highly amenable to in vivo imaging. Together with Integrative Biology colleague Ingo Braasch, Julia is currently building a zebrafish facility in Giltner Hall to continue working with zebrafish on this and other neurodevelopment projects.