Overview of our Research

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Aug 2020 lab hike
Aug 2020 lab hike

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Winona 09.2015_0877_DSC_4043.jpg

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We focus on how central nervous system myelin develops and adapts to the environment. The major questions we are addressing are:

Development. How do oligodendrocytes target their myelin sheaths to only certain subsets of nerve axons, while leaving other axon types unmyelinated? Which genes are required for sheath targeting? 

Plasticity. Do experiences or changes to neural activity cause oligodendrocytes to shift myelin onto, away from, or between circuits? Which genes regulate the extent that individual axons are myelinated in an activity-dependent manner?

Evolution. When and how did the oligodendrocyte cell type, myelinating phenotype, and adaptive myelination program first evolve?

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Our primary research organism is the embryonic and larval zebrafish, due to its transparency and ease of genetic manipulation.



A singly-labeled pre-myelinating oligodendrocyte in the 3 dpf zebrafish spinal cord. Color represents z-depth.

A singly-labeled pre-myelinating oligodendrocyte in the 3 dpf zebrafish spinal cord. Color changes represent movements during a 15-min time-lapse imaging movie.

Hines lab oligodendrocyte in zebrafish spinal cord

A single myelinating oligodendrocyte in the zebrafish spinal cord. 

To learn more about our research, click below for projects or publications.

The Neural Development Lab is housed within the Department of Biology and College of Science & Engineering at Winona, State University. 

Recent News

June 2021   Welcome

Welcome to the team Emma Lamping (undergraduate researcher) and John Butrum (research analyst/technician)

May 2021   Best wishes!

Heather Nelson and Katie Waller both hang up the crocs for the last time. We wish Heather and Katie all the best in their future endeavors and thank them for their extensive contributions.


Katie graduated with a degree in Biology - Allied Health.

May 2021   Congrats to Katie Waller

Apr 2020   Congrats to Kelsey Sobeck!

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Kelsey received invitations to multiple summer undergraduate research programs and will participate in the SURE program offered through Hormel Cancer Intitute / Univ. MN in Austin, MN. 

Jan 2021   Welcome new undergraduate researchers

Sophomore Madison Schaefer and Junior Kelsey Sobeck join the team for the spring semester to start a new project. 

Dec 2020   New grants awarded!  

Congrats to Katie Waller and Sakib Khan. Both were awarded WSU student grants to support their supplies.

Sept 2020   New paper from the lab: 

"Individual neuronal subtypes control initial myelin sheath growth and stabilization" is now published and viewable at Neural Development. Congrats to Heather Nelson and all co-authors.

Sept 2020. Lab alum A.J. Treichel began his Ph.D. studies at Stowers Institute (see feature article here)

Aug 2020.   James Gronseth started graduate school and his graduate fellowship in the lab.

For archived lab news & events, click here.