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Paula V. Monje, Ph.D.

Research Assistant Professor, Department of Neurological Surgery

Research Interests

Paula Monje, Ph.D.
Paula Monje, Ph.D.

Basic biology and therapeutic applications of in vitro cultured Schwann cells

Research in my laboratory focuses on the study of Schwann cells in their dual role of forming a myelin sheath and promoting axon regeneration after injury. We use in vitro cultured Schwann cells as platforms for basic studies, which are aimed at defining cellular and molecular mechanisms of proliferation and differentiation, and applications in cell therapy, which are aimed at developing systems for Schwann cell growth in vitro and determination of biological activity. For our studies, we rely on a combination of cell biology and genomic approaches to address the myelinating and regenerative capabilities of Schwann cells obtained from humans and experimental animals.

Signaling mechanisms of Schwann cell proliferation and differentiation
Schwann cells are a diverse group of glial cells from the peripheral nervous system. In higher vertebrates, a group of Schwann cells differentiate into cells that form the myelin, a specialized membrane structure that effectively insulates axons thus enabling the rapid conduction of electrical impulses. An important area of our current research is the study of signaling pathways that underlie the control of Schwann cell proliferation and differentiation into myelin-forming cells. Our current projects use the tools of traditional signal transduction research in combination with state-of-the-art technologies, such as whole transcriptome sequencing, that enable a broader description of signaling networks underlying cell function. In particular, we are interested in understanding how signaling from the ubiquitous second messenger cAMP control the onset, maintenance and reversal of the state of differentiation in Schwann cells as well as their proliferation when these establish contact with neurons.

Development and optimization of culture systems for primary Schwann cells
The use of cultured Schwann cells in cell signaling studies and cell therapy requires sophisticated methods for the growth of the cells in vitro along with systems that enable them to recapitulate the complex process of myelination in a controlled setting. My laboratory works on developing and optimizing cell culture methods for primary Schwann cells derived from different species, including humans, and stages of differentiation. One area of particular interest is the development of novel protocols for the isolation, purification and amplification of primary human and rodent Schwann cells. Another area of interest is the development of Schwann cell-specific cell-based assays that can determine the identity and function of the cells to be used in clinical and basic cell therapy of the nervous system.

CONTACT DETAILS

Paula V. Monje, Ph.D.

  • The Miami Project to Cure Paralysis
    1095 NW 14th Terrace (R-48)
    Miami, FL 33136
  • pmonje@med.miami.edu
  • (305) 243-8259
  • (305) 243-3921
INFORMATION

PUBLICATIONS

 

PROFESSIONAL AFFILIATIONS/MEMBERSHIPS

Interdisciplinary Stem Cell Institute (ISCI), University of Miami Miller School of Medicine, Miami, FL.

Society for Neuroscience (SfN)

Argentine Society for Neuroscience (SAN)

EDUCATION

1995. BS in Biology. National University of the South, Argentina.

2001. PhD in Biology. National University of the South, Argentina

2001-2003 Postdoc. National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, MD

2003-2008 Postdoc. The Miami Project to Cure Paralysis, University of Miami Miller School of Medicine, Miami, FL

LABORATORY MEMBERS

Name Title Phone Email
Natalia Andersen, Ph.D. Postdoctoral Associate 305-243-7138 nxa430@miami.edu
Michael McGrath Undergraduate Student 305-243-7138 m.mcgrath3@umiami.edu
Blanche Kuo Undergraduate Student 305-243-7138 B.kuo@miami.edu/a>