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Vigers, Alison Jane Senior Instructor

Positions

Research Areas research areas

Research

research overview

  • I am currently teaching full time but my research projects over many years have included cell biology, pharmacology and neuroscience. My most recent research (1996 - 2013) was in Kevin Jones’ lab studying the role that BDNF plays in the development and maintenance of the central nervous system. Using conditional forebrain-specific BDNF knock-out mice, I compared behavioral and neuroanatomical defects in late-onset and early-onset forebrain mutants. We found that continued expression of BDNF in the forebrain of the adult mouse is essential for normal neuroanatomy (especially spine density on cortical neurons) and behaviors (including spatial learning and depression). These observations are consistent with the hypothesis that reduced levels of BDNF in the adult human forebrain may contribute to synapse loss, and eventually to the cognitive impairment and neuronal atrophy that occur in neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease.

keywords

  • Neurobiology, development of the nervous system, maintenance of synaptic connections in the adult brain, neurodegeneration

Teaching

courses taught

  • MCDB 3140 - Cell Biology Laboratory
    Primary Instructor - Fall 2018 / Spring 2019 / Fall 2019
    Provides laboratory experience using microscopy, bioinformatics, DNA isolation, PCR and gel electrophoresis to study cell biology and gene expression in a model organism. Students will learn research skills such as interpreting data and planning experiments. Recommended corequisite: MCDB 3135 or MCDB 3145.
  • MCDB 4980 - Honors Research
    Primary Instructor - Fall 2019
    Provides faculty-supervised research for students who have been approved by the departmental honors committee. Normally taken during the semester before completion of the honors thesis. Recommended prerequisite: MCDB 4840 or comparable research experience, and minimum GPA of 3.20.
  • MCDB 4990 - Honors Thesis
    Primary Instructor - Fall 2019
    Involves the preparation and defense of an honors thesis, based on faculty-supervised original research, including final phases of the research project. Recommended prerequisites: MCDB 4840 or MCDB 4980 or comparable research experience, and minimum GPA of 3.3 and approval by the MCDB Honors Committee.
  • NRSC 4072 - Clinical Neuroscience: A Clinical and Pathological Perspective
    Primary Instructor - Spring 2018 / Fall 2018 / Spring 2019 / Fall 2019
    Provides a review of the anatomy and physiology of the nervous system and then explores how alterations in these systems can result in neurologic or psychiatric disorders. Emphasizes pathological neuroanatomy, neurophysiology and neuropharmacology, which is essential for understanding problems related to health and disease. Same as NRSC 5072.

Background

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