MAR 16, 2016 10:30 AM PDT

Keynote Speaker - Regulation and Function of Neurogenesis in the Adult Hippocampus

Presented At Neuroscience
  • Professor Laboratory of Genetics, Vi and John Adler Chair for Research on Age-Related Neurodegenerative Disease, The Salk Institute for Biological Studies
      Fred "Rusty" Gage Professor in the Laboratory of Genetics at the Salk Institute, and has concentrated on the adult central nervous system and the unexpected plasticity and adaptability that remains throughout the life of all mammals. His work may lead to methods of replacing brain tissue lost to stroke or Alzheimer's disease and repairing spinal cords damaged by trauma. He was the President-elect of the ISSCR in 2012.

      In 1998, Fred H. Gage and Peter Eriksson discovered and announced that the human brain produces new nerve cells in adulthood. Until then, it had been assumed that humans are born with all the brain cells they will ever have.

      Gage's lab showed that, contrary to years of dogma, human beings are capable of growing new nerve cells throughout life. Small populations of immature nerve cells are found in the adult mammalian brain, and Gage is working to understand how these cells can be induced to become mature nerve cells. His team is investigating how such cells can be transplanted back to the brain and spinal cord. They have showed that physical exercise can enhance the growth of new brain cells in the hippocampus, a brain structure that is important for the formation of new memories. Furthermore, his team is examining the underlying molecular mechanisms that are critical to the birth of new brain cells, work that may lead to new therapeutics for neurodegenerative conditions.

      Finally, his lab studies the genomic mosaicism that exists in the brain as a result of "jumping genes," mobile elements, and DNA damage that occurs during development. Specifically, he is interested in how this mosaicism may lead to difference in brain function between individuals.


    In the adult central nervous system (CNS) small populations of neurons are formed in the adult olfactory bulb and dentate gyrus of the hippocampus. In the adult hippocampus, newly born neurons originate from stem cells that exist in the subgranular zone of the dentate gyrus. Progeny of these putative stem cells differentiate into neurons in the granular layer within a month of the cells’ birth, and this late neurogenesis continues throughout the adult life of all mammals. Environmental stimulation can differentially effect the proliferation, migration and differentiation of these cells in vivo. These environmentally induced changes in the structural organization of the hippocampus, result in changes in electrophysiological responses in the hippocampus, as well as in hippocampal related behaviors. We are studying the cellular, molecular, as well as environmental influences that regulate neurogenesis in the adult brain. We have recently identified several molecules that work coordinately to regulate proliferation, survival and differentiation of these adult derived stem cells. In addition, we have demonstrated that specific types of activity can influence the behavior of these newly born cells. Finally, we have developed several methods to monitor the in vivo maturation of neurogenesis in vivo, which has provided insight to the functional importance of neurogenesis to behavior.  A consensus model of the function of adult neurogenesis is emerging

    Learning Objectives: 

    1. How is adult neurogenesis regulated?
    2. What might the function of adult neurogenesis in the hippocampus?

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