Organisation of projections to and from the spinal cord
Dr Huazheng (Andy) Liang has been investigating the pathways that connect the brain to the spinal cord for the past 9 years. Currently he is researching the termination pattern of projections arising from the subcoeruleus and trigeminal nuclei as well as the chemical characteristics of rubrospinal and vestibulospinal pathways. He is particularly interested in the influence of the monoaminergic systems (eg. serotonergic, dopaminergic, adrenergic and noradrenergic pathways) on the spinal cord. He has recently worked up the CLARITY/CUBIC technique in the NeuRA laboratory, which was developed by Deisseroth and colleagues at Stanford University in 2013 (Chung et al., 2013, Nature). This technique dissolves lipid from brain tissue, rendering it transparent and thereby enabling researchers to investigate the intact mouse brain (traditional microscopic analysis involves cutting, and therefore distorting, the brain tissue). The transparent brain can be imaged in 3D, allowing careful investigation of specific types of neurons and their axonal projections in both the brain and spinal cord.