Esther Stoeckli

Development of the vertebrate central nervous system

Our research focuses on the molecular mechanisms that underlie the establishment of neuronal circuits. In particular, we are interested in the molecular guidance cues that help axons, the long processes of neurons, to navigate through the preexisting tissue to their target cells. The specificity of neuronal circuits is a prerequisite for the function of the nervous system. Inappropriate connections not only result in loss of functions but in addition can induce undesirable effects, such as chronic          
or phantom pain. These pain syndroms can be caused by inappropriate connections established in the dorsal horn of the spinal cord after peripheral injury. One of our projects, thus, aims at the characterization of subpopulation-specific guidance molecules that help sensory afferents to navigate to their target layers in the gray matter of the spinal cord.