Dr. Bennett Novitch is interested in molecular mechanisms that control the proliferation, identity, and differentiation of neural stem cells.
Novitch's laboratory research aims to understand how neural stem and progenitor cells give rise to the vast array of distinct neuron and glial cell types found in the central nervous system during embryonic development.
To study how this process works at a molecular level, his lab is primarily focusing on the formation of three cell types: spinal motor neurons and intemeurons, which control the movement of muscles in the body, and oligodendrocytes, which support the function of motor neurons.
Novitch's main objectives are to:
- Identify the extracellular signals in developing embryos that instruct stem and progenitor cells to form these and other cell types in the central nervous system
- Ascertain how these signals regulate the expression and activity of transcription factors within stem and progenitor cells
- Ultimately determine how these transcription factors control the division, differentiation, identity and function of neurons and glia.
Insights into these fundamental mechanisms are essential for determining the role of stem and progenitor cells in normal development and in diseased states such as cancer, as well as for developing methods to manipulate stem and progenitor cells to facilitate the repair of damaged neural circuits.
Rousso DL, Gaber ZB, Wellik D, Morrisey EE, Novitch BG. Coordinated actions of the forkhead protein Foxp1 and Hox proteins in the columnar organization of spinal motor neurons. Neuron. 2008 Jul 31;59(2):226-40.
Dessaud E, Yang LL, Hill K, Cox B, Ulloa F, Ribeiro A, Mynett A, Novitch BG, Briscoe J. Interpretation of the sonic hedgehog morphogen gradient by a temporal adaptation mechanism. Nature. 2007 Nov 29;450(7170):717-20.
Novitch BG, Wichterle H, Jessell TM, Sockanathan S. A requirement for retinoic acid-mediated transcriptional activation in ventral neural patterning and motor neuron specification. Neuron. 2003 Sep 25;40(1):81-95.
Novitch BG, Chen AI, Jessell TM. Coordinate regulation of motor neuron subtype identity and pan-neuronal properties by the bHLH repressor Olig2. Neuron. 2001 Sep 13;31(5):773-89.
Novitch BG, Spicer DB, Kim PS, Cheung WL, Lassar AB. pRb is required for MEF2-dependent gene expression as well as cell-cycle arrest during skeletal muscle differentiation. Curr Biol. 1999 May 6;9(9):449-59.