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The Zebrafish Neurodevelopment Lab (PI: Julia Ganz) at Michigan State University is recruiting highly motivated PhD students interested in working on the development and regeneration of the nervous system.
In the Ganz Lab (, we are interested in understanding how a complex nervous system is generated from stem/progenitor cells and how regeneration of a nervous system is regulated using zebrafish as our model system. In our lab, we focus on development of the enteric nervous system that innervates the gut and controls important gut function, such as gut motility. We use a variety of molecular (i.e. CRISPR/Cas9 genome editing, single cell RNA-seq, in situ hybridization, immunohistochemistry) and imaging techniques (confocal and spinning disk microscope) to identify the signals that stem/progenitor cells require to generate different types of neurons and glia cells in the enteric nervous system. We are also evaluating if the enteric nervous system regenerates and if it does, how that process is regulated.
Possible projects fall within the following research areas in the lab:
How is the generation of neurons, glia cells and different neuronal subtypes regulated in the enteric nervous system?
We are testing candidate genes identified from RNA-seq screens to identify genes and signaling pathways that play a role in regulating neuronal differentiation or in neuronal subtype specification. We then dissect the molecular and cellular basis of their effect on neuronal or glial differentiation or neuronal subtype specification.
How is regeneration in the enteric nervous system regulated?
Using a genetic cell ablation system with spatio-temporal control, we will determine the cellular
responses after targeted neuronal ablation and the regenerative ability of the ENS. Using
molecular and imaging techniques, we will determine how the regenerative process is regulated
– is there a regenerative program or does the regenerative process recapitulate development?
Gene family evolution (shared project with the Braasch Lab at MSU)
In collaboration with the Braasch Lab we tackle the question: what is the role of gen(om)e duplications and gene losses in generating phenotypic diversity? We focus on gene families that play a role in neural crest and nervous system development/function combining developmental analyses with evolutionary approaches.
Our group is part of the Department of Integrative Biology (IBIO) (, Neuroscience Program (, Reproductive and Developmental Sciences Program (, and the Genetics Graduate Program ( that is part of the BMS program ( at Michigan State University.
MSU IBIO has a strong research commitment to vertebrate biology with a highly collaborative community of groups working on the enteric nervous system, gastrointestinal research, development, stem cells, neuroscience, genomics, and fish evolution, allowing for vibrant exchange among fields, methods and model systems.
Qualifications: Applicants should have training in biology, neurobiology, genetics, molecular biology, cell biology, zoology or related fields. Suitable candidates should be enthusiastic about developmental biology and neurobiology. Previous research experience in a relevant area is desired.
PhD candidates should email Julia Ganz in advance of the MSU Graduate Program application deadlines on December 1, 2018.
Please include the following in your email:
1. Description of your research interests and how they align with research interests of my lab
2. Curriculum Vitae
3. Names and email contacts of 2-3 references
We are looking forward to your application!
Dr. Julia Ganz
Assistant Professor
Department of Integrative Biology
College of Natural Science
Michigan State University; phone: +1 (517) 432-3484
Twitter: @brainyfishguts

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