The Crone Laboratory studies how neural circuits controlling motor behaviors are affected by disease and injury. Our goal is to develop strategies targeting neural circuits capable of improving motor function and the quality of life of patients suffering from developmental defects, neurodegenerative disease or injury. Our focus is on the circuits in the spinal cord and brainstem that control walking and breathing and the diseases that affect them: including spinal muscular atrophy (SMA, “floppy baby syndrome”), amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS, “Lou Gehrig’s Disease”), congenital central hypoventilation syndrome (CCHS, “Ondine’s curse”), and spinal cord injury.

To accomplish our goals, we use transgenic mouse and viral tools to label and manipulate specific neural populations in animal models of disease or injury. By manipulating the development or firing activity of specific interneurons, we determine how neural activity contributes to normal circuit development as well as to the onset and progression of disease. Using conditional mutant mice, we assess which changes in gene expression and which cell types are important for disease and recovery from injury. Our lab uses a wide range of techniques that look at neural circuits from the molecular and cellular level up to the level of physiology and behavior.

Our lab is also actively involved in the Neuromuscular Development Group. Our collaborations aim to accelerate research in the development and diseases of the neuromuscular system.

Image depicting the mouse spinal cord with motor neurons labeled using antibodies to non-phosphorylated neurofilaments.

Image depicting the mouse spinal cord with motor neurons labeled using antibodies to non-phosphorylated neurofilaments.