About the lab

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Science Team

Our research summary

The world is full of sensory stimuli – we hear the morning alarm, see the sunlight coming through the window, and taste the coffee that wakes us. But it is only through movement that we are able to interact with the world.

Work in the Bikoff lab aims to understand the functional organization of neural circuits that enable movement. We use a multidisciplinary approach that incorporates viral tools, imaging, single-cell genomics, and mouse behavioral analysis to study how circuits in the spinal cord and brain control motor behavior.

I. Cell-type diversity in the nervous system

Understanding the functional organization of the nervous system relies in part on defining the diversity and identity of neuronal cell types that form the building blocks of neural circuits. Our prior work has focused on the cardinal class of spinal V1 interneurons, which are the largest inhibitory population in the ventral spinal cord, and are known to play key roles in coordinating flexion/extension movement and regulating locomotor speed. We found that the V1 class contains dozens of candidate cell types that differ in their molecular identity, position, and physiology. In ongoing work, we are employing single-cell genomic and computational   to further define the identity and gene regulatory networks that specify these different interneuron cell types.

Digital image of artificial intelligence human brain

1.a. Digital image of artificial intelligence human brain.

II. Connectivity of spinal motor circuits

We are interested in the circuit organization and synaptic connectivity of spinal interneurons. By using viral transsynaptic and other tracing methods, in combination with whole-brain imaging, we aim to define the extent to which V1 interneuron subsets are recruited by distinct descending systems in the brain and project to motor pools controlling biomechanically distinct muscles.

Digital image of artificial intelligence human brain

1.a. Digital image of artificial intelligence human brain.

III. Function of spinal interneurons in motor control

The ventral interneurons we study are known to provide direct synaptic input to motor neurons. By virtue of their proximity to motor output, the  target specific spinal interneuron subsets, in combination with electromyography and high-speed imaging and kinematic analysis, we can study how ablation or activation of neuronal subsets perturbs fundamental aspects of limb movement, such as flexion/extension.


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The team

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We are always looking for highly self-motivated scientists/engineers with passion and talent to join us! People with experimental background are also encouraged to apply.

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Postal Address

Jay Bikoff, PhD
Assistant Member, Developmental Neurobiology

Department of Developmental Neurobiology
MS 322, Room D2006C
St. Jude Children Research Hospital

262 Danny Thomas Place
Memphis, TN, 38105-3678 USA

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262 Danny Thomas Place
Memphis, TN, 38105-3678 USA