Dr. George Gomez

My research

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My research centers on differentiation and neurogenesis in the avian olfactory system.  I focus on three main areas of research:

The development of the nervous system is a topic that is of great interest to researchers. When a neuron dies or is damaged, the nervous system can repair itself by growing new neurons from undifferentiated cells. This (re)generation of neurons is a multi-stage process, and involves several different growth factors that trigger nerve cell growth.

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image shows an acutely-isolated chick olfactory neuron

The olfactory system is known for its ability to regenerate throughout the adult lifespan: olfactory neurons die on a routine basis, and the neurons are continuously replaced by cells that differentiate from non-neuronal precursors.  I study this process in the embryonic chick for a number of reasons:

  • the developmental timeline is easy to control
  • there is little known about bird olfaction
  • it is cost-effective, and requires minimal lab resources
  • it is practical for use by undergraduate students
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In my lab, I have also encouraged students to investigate projects of their own interest.  Much of our recent work has used the chick embryonic system to study problems related to oxidative stress.
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Students play a key role in my research.  I always involve students, and encourage them to develop their own research problems, approaches, and expertise.