Dr Nathalie Jurisch-Yaksi
cilia, brain, zebrafish
Nathalie Jurisch-Yaksi is a group leader at the Department of Clinical and Molecular Medicine at NTNU and an associate member at the Kavli Institute for Systems Neuroscience, where she closely collaborates with the Yaksi laboratory. She is supervising her team of 3 PhD, 1 medical and 3 master students. Dr Jurisch-Yaksi uses the genetically tractable small model organism zebrafish and a combination of techniques including genetics, molecular and cell biology, functional imaging, quantitative behavioral assays and applied mathematics in order to study the following questions:
The role of cilia in brain development and function: The cilium is a small cellular appendage projecting from the surface of most cells, like a tiny antenna. It can generate flow or play a structural, sensory or signaling role in many tissues. Hence, defects in cilia observed in ciliopathy patients affect multiple organs and result in developmental defects, heart and kidney disease, respiratory dysfunction, anosmia and neurological disorders. Using a combination of genetics and imaging techniques, we investigate cellular and physiological mechanisms regulating ciliary function and motility, in vivo. Altogether we expect our work to set a framework for studying and characterizing human ciliopathies using zebrafish as a model organism.
Neural mechanisms underlying neurological diseases: We are interested to understand how specific genetic disease mutations identified in humans affect the brain development and function using zebrafish as model organism. We collaborate with clinicians working on epilepsy and neurodevelopmental disorders. Together, we characterize novel genes mutated in human diseases using state-of-the-art genetic engineering and neuroscience approaches. We believe that this approach can help us to not only shed light on the function of specific genes in healthy brains but also inspire the development of novel therapies against these genetic diseases.