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Research unit director

Artur Kania, PhD

  • Director, Neural Circuit Development research unit
  • Associate IRCM Research Professor
  • Associate Research Professor, Department of Medicine (accreditation in molecular biology), Université de Montréal
  • Adjunct Professor, Department of Medicine (Division of Experimental Medicine), Department of Anatomy and Cell Biology, and Department of Biology, McGill University 

The human body interacts with the outside world through voluntary movements like a ballerina’s precisely coordinated grand jeté or the delicate movements of a watchmaker’s fingers.  The basic units that control these behaviours are motor neurons that transmit the summation of motor system activity to the somatic muscles. Compared to visual recognition or abstract thinking, the tasks performed by components of the motor system appear to be relatively simple, but we do not yet fully understand how these basic circuits come together. Interest in this topic has been heightened by the sensitivity of motor neurons in neurodegenerative diseases such as amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (Lou Gehrig’s disease), growth defects associated with movement disorders, and the quest to find treatments for spinal cord injuries. To determine how the motor system is assembled, my laboratory is studying axon guidance, the migration of cell bodies, apoptosis, and electrical activity during embryo development of groups of motor neurons.

Other affiliations

  • Member, Centre of Excellence in Neuroscience of Université de Montréal
  • Member, Quebec Pain Research Network, Fonds de recherche du Québec Santé

Degrees and relevant experience

  • PhD in human and molecular genetics, Baylor College of Medicine, Texas, USA (1991-1996)
  • Predoctoral fellow, Human and Molecular Genetics, Dr. Hugo Bellen’s laboratory, Baylor College of Medicine, Texas, USA (1991-1996)
  • Postdoctoral fellowship, Dr. Thomas M. Jessell’s laboratory, Center for Neurobiology and Behavior, Columbia University, New York, USA (1996-2000)
  • Associate researcher, Dr. Thomas M. Jessell’s laboratory, Center for Neurobiology and Behavior, Columbia University, New York, USA (2000-2004)
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