F99/K00 Awardee, Mentor, Advocate
Monique Mendes is originally from Kingston, Jamaica. She received her degree in Biology from the University of Florida. Monique came to the University of Rochester in search of a robust neuroscience program that focused on glial biology and a collaborative environment.
In the laboratory of Dr. Ania Majewska, Monique is researching how specific brain cells, microglia, undergo a process called self-renewal. Microglia are the brain’s immune cells and have long been appreciated for their critical roles during brain injury and disease. Recent studies, however, show that microglia maintain brain homeostasis by supporting developing neurons and remodeling neural circuitry during development. Despite their importance in the brain, very little is known about how microglia sustain themselves after they enter the brain during development.
Monique’s dissertation research is specifically designed to investigate how molecules, such as P2Y12 (a purinergic molecule that promotes blood clotting) and CX3CR1 (a protein that facilitates immune cell adhesion and migration), affect microglial development and maturation. Using a sophisticated two-photon microscope imaging system, she is tracking microglial renewal dynamics after pharmacological manipulation. The results from this study will significantly expand our understanding of how microglia regulate brain development in both normal and diseased circumstances such as Autism and Schizophrenia.