The faculty in this area focus on understanding the cellular and molecular mechanisms that pattern the nervous system during development. Many complex processes are involved in the differentiation of specific neuronal and glial cell types and the formation of axon pathways and neural connections. In Neuroscience Training Program, students use cutting edge genetic techniques in model systems such as Drosophila, zebrafish, and mice to understand how individual molecules function in a variety of processes important for neural development. One main focus of investigation is understanding the mechanisms of neuronal and glial differentiation. Faculty are exploring questions such as how cell lineage is determined, how cells choose neuronal or glial fates, and what determines the type of neurotransmitter synthesized. Another strong concentration is the analysis of axon pathfinding mechanisms with live imaging of growing axons either in vivo or in cell cultures. Other faculty are investigating mechanisms of synaptic plasticity in the hippocampus and in the neural control of respiration. The Program also has a major strength in high-profile stem cell research. These investigators are pioneering methods of growing and controlling the differentiation of embryonic and neural stem cells; work that is crucial both for understanding normal neuronal differentiation mechanisms, and to replace neurons and restore circuits after brain injury or disease.