Mary McKitrick is examining the behavior of hedgehog responsive cells following injury in the adult zebrafish brain. In the mammalian brain, scar tissue forms within a few days of injury in a characteristic response known as reactive gliosis that seems to prevent further repair. The zebrafish brain has the remarkable ability to heal completely following lesion, providing a model for studying the molecular events that control cell proliferation, differentiation, and even axon guidance following injury to the central nervous system. By studying the response to brain injury in the zebrafish we hope to gain insights that could eventually help guide stem cell therapies in humans.
Mary earned an A.B. from Princeton University, an M.S. from the University of Arizona, and a Ph.D. from the University of Pittsburgh. She was a Chapman Fellow in the Department of Ornithology at the American Museum of Natural History, an Assistant Professor and Curator of Birds at the University of Michigan Museum of Zoology, and a Program Director at the National Science Foundation.