Return to list Gordon Fishell, PhD


Gordon Fishell, PhD

Professor of Neurobiology, Harvard Medical School







I am a developmental neurobiologist interested in how the architecture of brain circuits are assembled, with a special focus on the diverse populations of inhibitory interneurons that are found in both pallial and subpallial telencephalon. My lab identified that the origins of these cells are generated from two specialized embryonic structures of the subpallium, the medial and caudal ganglionic eminences (MGE and CGE, accordingly). We were also central in identifying both the extrinsic signals (Sonic Hedgehog, Notch, FGF and Wnts) that pattern these regions, as well as discovering a swath of intrinsic transcriptional signals (Nkx2.1, Sox6, Satb1 and Prox1) that form a signaling cascade for the specification of specific interneuron subtypes. More recently we have developed a model to explain how a common set of interneurons can integrate into a wide variety of brain structures with distinctly different organizations and functions. A key to this model is that genetically specified “cardinal” classes, adapt their connectivity in accordance with the circuits into which they are placed.  Central to the ability of general cardinal interneurons to achieve appropriate local connectivity are activity-regulated events that occur immediately after interneurons have completed their migration, a process we have dubbed “definitive” differentiation.  A central challenge moving forward is to understand the source of activity that triggers cascade of gene expression in developing interneurons, as a means to understand how they are specified into discrete functionally distinct subclasses. 

Regional And Genetic Diversity Of Cortical Interneurons - NIH/NIMH 5R01MH071679