Dorothy P. Schafer '01, PhD - Microglia: Dynamic Immune Cells Regulating Brain Plasticity

Please join us in welcoming Alum Dorothy P. Schafer '01, Ph.D., Assistant Professor, UMass Medical School from the Department of Neurobiology who will speak about the central nervous system (CNS) which has long been described as “immune-privileged.” Exciting new findings challenge this notion and demonstrate that neural-immune interactions regulate healthy neural circuit development and function. Refreshments will be served at 4pm. Free and open to the public.

More about the Lecture:
Emphasizing the importance of these interactions, neural circuits and immune cells are now recognized as hallmark features of neurodevelopmental and neuropsychiatric disorders, including autism and schizophrenia. However, it is unknown whether microglia and circuit abnormalities are mechanistically linked and whether they cause behavioral symptoms in patients.

The goal of my lab is to understand how microglia, the resident CNS macrophage, regulate the development and plasticity of brain circuits. In doing so, we employ a variety of cutting-edge techniques including high and super-resolution microscopy, two photon in vivo live imaging in awake, behaving mice, and microglia-specific molecular genetics in vitro and in vivo. Long term, we hope to apply our findings in basic research to identify novel therapeutics for neurological disorders with known defects in microglia and brain circuits.