🔊 Eavesdrop on Experts: Investigating the Brain’s Insulation

Dr David Gonsalvez, NHMRC Postdoctoral Research Fellow in the Neurotrophin and Myelin laboratory (Dept of Anatomy and Neuroscience), discusses his research in neural plasticity, the brain and myelin.

Multiple sclerosis is a disease in which a person’s immune system incorrectly attacks the insulating material of the brain. This insulating material is called myelin and it is made by cells called oligodendrocytes.

Dr Gonsalvez is intrigued by the development and plasticity of the brains myelin. His research is focussed on how myelin forms and the cells that make myelin are added to the brain in development.

“We now know that myelin can be changed in response to experience, but importantly these changes are necessary for some types of learning” Dr Gonsalvez says.

Through studying the impact of the environment on myelin and how it forms, Dr Gonsalvez and his team are seeking to understand what happens when myelin degrades and the electrical signal is disrupted, as happens in Multiple Sclerosis (MS), and to identify new therapeutic targets for the disease.

Originally published in Pursuit.

Please also see The Secret Life of STEM podcast series, Episode One: Where Can STEM Take Me? to hear Dr Gonsalvez and other researchers discussing their STEM research careers.