The focus of the Fitzsimons lab is to identify common mechanisms by which brain insults affect cognition. For this, we focus on a group of insults that modify the proliferation and function of neural stem cells, resulting in the presence of abnormal neurons, circuits and cellular alterations associated with neurodegeneration and cognitive impairment.
Our central hypothesis is that a group of common brain insults such as traumatic brain injuries, stroke, seizures, chronic stress, neuroinflammation, neurodegeneration, aging, et cetera, modify the proliferation capacity and other key biological functions in neural stem cells present in the adult brain, thereby contributing to the cellular changes associated with brain disease and affecting cognition.
We use a “multi-omics” approach based on transcriptomics, proteomics, microRNA profiling and single-cell RNA sequencing techniques that allow us to characterize specific gene expression profiles in neural stem cells, associated with brain injury.
We complement this multi-omics approach with super-resolution microscopy techniques to understand how specific gene expression profiles can be linked to particular cell states in specific neural stem cell populations and neurons and astrocytes derived from them, behavioral tests to evaluate cognition and gene manipulation in individual cells aiming at developing restorative therapies for the brain.