Adding new oligodendrocytes to the mature brain - understanding the how and the why

Dr Kaylene Young, Menzies Institute for Medical Research, TAS

Oligodendrocyte progenitor cells (OPCs) remain as immature cells in the mature brain, where they continue to divide and generate new oligodendrocytes throughout life.  This seminar will explore established and novel regulators of OPC differentiation, examine the functional role of new oligodendrocytes in the healthy brain, and demonstrate our capacity to modulate this system to enhance oligodendrocyte generation for brain repair.

Dr Kaylene Young was a Sir John Monash Science Scholar who obtained her BSc(hons) from Monash University.  She undertook her PhD research at the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute, and in the early part of her career investigated the properties and functions of adult neural stem cells.  As a postdoctoral researcher at University College London (UK), Kaylene became increasingly interested in an immature cell population known as oligodendrocyte progenitor cells (OPCs), and initiated research to investigate their function in the adult brain.  She discovered that OPCs generate significant numbers of myelinating oligodendrocytes in the normal adult brain, and contribute to remyelination following injury.  Kaylene is a group leader at the Menzies Institute for Medical Research, where her team now examines the relationship between neuronal activity and myelination, and explores way to utilize innate myelin plasticity for the treatment of neurodegenerative diseases including Multiple Sclerosis and Alzheimer’s disease.