Tara DeSilva, Ph.D.
1986-1990 B.S. Biochemistry, Albright College, Reading, PA
1995-1997 M.S. Biological Chemistry, The University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA
1997-2000 Ph.D. Biological Chemistry, The University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA
2001-2007 Postdoctoral Fellow, Children’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA
2007-2009 Instructor, Children’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA
Myelin in the central nervous system forms the insulation around axons which is necessary for the proper conductance of nerve impulses in the brain. Perturbations in the myelin sheath are involved in several neurological disorders including cerebral palsy, multiple sclerosis, and traumatic brain injury. Myelin is composed of cells called oligodendrocytes (OLs) which develop in distinct stages identified with specific markers i.e., precursor OLs (O4 sulfatide), immature OLs (O1 sulfatide), and mature OLs (MBP, myelin basic protein); the latter form the myelin sheath around axons. The factors that promote oligodendrocyte maturation to form myelin are not known. Our lab has demonstrated that when proteins that regulate glutamate are disrupted, there is a distinct decrease in the amount of myelin insulating the nerves. The goal of our laboratory is to understand how glutamatergic signaling between axons and oligodendrocytes promotes myelination. In vitro cell culture systems and in vivo animal models are being used to elucidate these signaling cascades. Understanding the cell biology of glutamate, the major neurotransmitter in the brain, and its role in myelination is important for the process of remyelination and how to activate this process as a potential therapy for cerebral palsy, multiple sclerosis, and traumatic brain injury