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Columbia UniversityThe President's Report 2002-2007
Groundbreaking Work
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Thomas Jessell, Center for Neurobiology (Biomedical)

Molecular code for key aspects of nervous system development deciphered

Thomas Jessell’s research has defined many of the principles that are now understood to govern the specification of neuronal types and the formation of their specific synaptic connections. Using the spinal cord as a model system, he deciphered the molecular logic that directs the generation of motor, sensory, and interneurons, as well as the steps that drive their assembly into circuits that mediate reflexive behavior, motor coordination, and central nervous system pattern generation.

This image shows an identified spinal neuron that relays sensory information about limb position. Proprioceptive sensory relay neurons are shown in red, and the morphology of one of these neurons is revealed in green, after intracellular dye injection. The blue cloud depicts sensory afferent terminals that contact the relay neuron. (Image provided by Dr. Adam Hantman)
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