The research of my laboratory focuses on the early development of the central nervous system. We are interested in understanding the rules by which stem cells are fated to become specific types of cells that are found in the adult nervous system. For this work, we are examining different gene classes, the proteins that they produce, and the receptors that activate or inhibit their expression. The techniques that we use are whole animal and tissue culture. These techniques require use of basic molecular biology, immunohistochemistry, electron microscopy, and general neuroscience methods.
Additionally, in cooperation with Dr. Steve Yellon, we have an exciting series of investigations that are examining the role of the nervous system in the initiation and onset of labor. We are examining the neural mechanisms that are involved in the cervix that triggers the birth of the fetus.
The third major focus of my laboratory is examining of the role of the nervous system to trigger development of bone cells. We have identified that fetal neurons possess a unique capability of stimulating the large-scale proliferation of bone osteoblasts in culture. We are currently determining which of several candidate neurotrophins are involved in this process.
Each of the three main directions that my lab is currently focused has immediate, and potentially major, ramifications for human medical treatment. These will be addressed with future clinical trials.
At present, I have seven graduate, medical, and postdoctoral students working in the laboratory.Michael A. Kirby's curriculum vitae