Dr. Jessell's research has focused on the development of functional circuitry in the vertebrate central nervous system. Using the sensory-motor reflex circuit in the spinal cord as a model system, his work has defined many of the cellular and molecular mechanisms and principles that determine the formation of neuronal connections and the assembly of functional circuitry. His studies have shown how insights from normal pathways of neuronal specification can be used to direct embryonic stem cells to form functional neurons that can integrate into brain circuits. These findings have implications for the reconstruction of circuits that have been damaged through trauma or neurodegenerative disease.
Dasen JS, De Camilli A, Wang B, Tucker PW, Jessell TM. Hox repertoires for motor neuron diversity and connectivity gated by a single accessory factor, FoxP1. Cell. 2008 Jul 25;134(2):304-16.
Nagai M, Re DB, Nagata T, Chalazonitis A, Jessell TM, Wichterle H, Przedborski S. Astrocytes expressing ALS-linked mutated SOD1 release factors selectively toxic to motor neurons. Nat Neurosci. 2007 May;10(5):615-22. Epub 2007 Apr 15.
Wichterle, H., Lieberam, I., Porter, J., and Jessell, T.M. (2002). Directed differentiation of embryonic stem cells into motor neurons. Cell, 110, 385-397.