Interested in the dynamic nature of the brain, Fiona Doetsch studies adult neurogenesis, an unexpected form of neural plasticity that involves the continual addition of new neurons to distinct regions of the adult brain. Although the functional significance of adult neurogenesis is unknown, the addition of tens of thousands of neurons each day could provide a powerful means of sculpting brain circuitry. Doetsch’s work has focused on the source of adult-formed neurons in the mammalian brain and uncovered a network of highways for the migration of newly generated neurons. She has shown that germinal centers in the adult brain, where the neurons are born, can regenerate rapidly and completely following injury. Her work has identified the stem cells that reside in these germinal regions and defined the lineage of a single stem cell as it divides to ultimately form a neuron.
As a Radcliffe Institute fellow, Doetsch will investigate the control of stem cells and their progeny in the adult mammalian brain at the molecular and cellular level. These studies will provide insight into the principles governing the regulation, activation, and diversity of adult neural stem cells, and ultimately into the function of adult neurogenesis.
Doetsch is a member of the Department of Molecular and Cellular Biology at Harvard University. She obtained her BSc in biochemistry from McGill University and her PhD in neurobiology from Rockefeller University. Her honors include her appointment as a junior fellow in the Society of Fellows at Harvard University.