Cell-Signaling Events that Drive Nervous System Development

Research Focus:
Jennifer Round
Assistant Professor of Biology

Jennifer RoundThere are many processes that have to happen for a brain to fully grow and develop. One process, in particular, is that neurons are born, migrate to their proper location, and form connections—called synapses—with very specific partners. “When that doesn’t go well, it can result in any one of many different neurological conditions,” Jennifer Round says. Her research focuses on the mysteries surrounding a specific protein family called SLITRK. “Its presence is all over the developing brain and we know it’s doing something important. Our lab tries to contribute little pieces of that knowledge base: What are the proteins doing? What happens if you take them away? What are their partners?” Round is observing what goes wrong in brain development when the proteins are removed. Asking those questions is a hallmark of scientific research.

“ I want to use my research as a natural teaching tool and turn students on to the idea of research,” Round says. “Brain science isn’t just a collection of facts. There are a lot of open questions and undiscovered things.”

Round will soon publish a paper coauthored with students.