Tomoko “Tommie” Velasquez
My research seeks to determine how neural networks within the mammalian spinal cord process sensory information and generate motor behaviors. Using intersectional genetic strategies in combination with techniques including electrophysiology and behavioral analysis, I am characterizing molecularly defined populations of neurons and how they interact within circuits to determine adaptive behaviors. I am particularly concerned with the transmission and integration of touch, pain and itch in healthy animals, as well as in aging and disease.
I completed my PhD at University of St Andrews under the supervision of Dr Gareth Miles. My doctoral research explored neuromodulation and gliotransmission within spinal locomotor networks.
I received my BSc in Physiology and Biology, and my MSc in Neuroscience from the University of Paris Saclay. During my PhD, I worked in the lab of Pr. Frédéric Saudou (France, Institute Curie-Paris and GIN-Grenoble) to develop a microfluidic tool to reconstitute in vitro the corticostriatal network that is primarily damaged in Huntington’s disease. This system allowed me to highlight the cortex as a therapeutic target and to validate a previously screened drug, and then evaluate its therapeutic effects on Huntington’s disease mouse models. I joined Martyn Goulding‘s lab in July 2019 as a postdoc and now I am focusing on how subcortical regions integrate and encode sensorimotor information. I will elucidate the genetic and molecular characteristics of neural circuits underlying the propagation of sensorimotor information.