New Science Building to Foster Collaboration on Spinal Cord Development

2A20MRG_230.jpgThere is much anticipation within the NYU Langone Health community for the unveiling of the new Science Building at the end of this year. However, for some researchers like Kristen D'Elia, a PhD candidate in the Neuroscience Institute, the excitement hits close to home. 

D'Elia, who is co-mentored by David Schoppik, PhD, and Jeremy Dasen, PhD, rotated in the two labs as a first-year student in the Sackler PhD program. While the two labs study similar questions in neuronal development, they do so in different model organisms—the Schoppik lab using zebrafish and the Dasen lab using mice. 

D'Elia is now combining the research expertise of both her mentors to study how neurons develop to form the spinal cord, a process that has been highly conserved throughout vertebrate evolution. (Pictured left, motor neurons in the spinal cord and their projections to muscles in the tail and the fins of a zebrafish embryo.)

However, with the two labs and their affiliated facilities located in different buildings, the joint scientific venture is not without its complications. "I certainly get my steps in," she said when describing her daily shuttling between the Schoppik lab in the Medical Science Building (MSB), the Dasen lab in Smilow, and the fish facility in Skirball. "Many of my experiments involve multiple time-sensitive samplings, and getting them right takes a lot of maneuvering."

Fortunately, things are going to get much easier for D'Elia later this year, as both labs are moving to the same floor of the new Science Building. 

"We're very much looking forward to moving into the new space," said Dr. Dasen, as he explained the benefits of having an open, multi-lab area that is shared with other neuroscience labs. "We're molecular biologists studying neurons, and we have certain ways of looking at things. It's going to be very beneficial for us to be closer to groups like the Schoppik lab, who take a more behavioral approach to neuroscience and use different techniques, like electrophysiology. It's always good to have people from different backgrounds come together to exchange ideas," he added.

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The two research labs will be located on floor 11 of the new Science Building (Pictured right, an aerial view of the new Science Building.), along with five other Neuroscience Institute groups. The floor will have an expansive facility to house different model organisms – zebrafish, mice, and even flies – that will support research, and provide ample opportunity for new and exciting collaborations.

Story reprinted with permission from The Office of Science and Research