Tomoko “Tommie” Velasquez
David Acton, PhD
I aim to uncover the structure of networks within the mammalian spinal cord involved in the processing of sensory information and the generation of movement. 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 control behavior.
I completed my PhD at University of St Andrews under the supervision of Dr Gareth Miles. This project explored neuromodulation and gliotransmission within spinal locomotor networks and provided me with a grounding in spinal cord physiology and electrophysiology.
Graziana Gatto, PhD
I graduated from the University of Naples in 2006 with a Masters degree in Medical Biotechnology. During my research project I characterized the molecular mechanisms by which the Epstein-Barr virus induces microRNA expression. I then moved to the Max Planck Institute of Neurobiology in Munich where I obtained my PhD in September 2013. In the laboratory of Rüdiger Klein, I studied how the modulation of Eph/ephrin and neurotrophic factor signaling regulates motor and sensory neuron guidance. I joined Martyn's lab in September 2014 to study the role of dorsal spinal interneurons in shaping the motor response to aversive stimuli. In particular, by combining genetic, optogenetic and pharmacological approaches I would like to functionally and molecularly characterize the different subclasses of dorsal interneurons involved in processing withdrawal reflex and itching behaviors.
Stefania Di Costanzo
I graduated in 2012 from the University of Naples in Medical Biotechnology where my research was focused on the signaling pathways involved in non small cell lung cancer. The following two years I was a research assistant first at Harvard Medical School in the Walsh lab and then at the George Washington University in the Manzini lab working on the functional characterization of genes involved in intellectual disabilities and muscular dystrophies. I was accepted at UCSD in the Biological Sciences program in 2014 and started my PhD work in the Goulding lab in June 2015. My PhD project is focused on unveiling the functional organization of the inhibitory circuits that shape the locomotor system. Using a combination of intersectional genetics and viral tools, I am characterizing the diversity and connectivity of specific populations of inhibitory interneurons in the ventral horn that are important to establish speed, pattern and rhythm of movement.
I graduated from Zhejiang University, China in 2014. Now I am a PhD student in the Biology graduate program of UCSD. The spinal cord is the first relay station of the central nervous system to process somatosensory and motor input from the external world. It has been shown that neurons in the spinal dorsal horn form different modalities to selectively receive and transmit various types of sensory and motor information. (Bourane et al. Cell 2015; Duan et al. Cell 2014) Here, in the Goulding lab, I am really interested in looking for new specific neuronal markers which can be correlated to specific types of sensory and motor behaviors. Using intersectional genetic methods, along with histology, behavior tests and retrograde tracing, I try to characterize excitatory and inhibitory neuronal populations, and dissect intricate neural circuitries in dorsal horn of spinal cord.