Associate Professor of Biological Sciences
PhD, 2001 University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Neural network plasticity as a result of injury and disease
Research descriptionThe nervous system is an interconnected system of neural networks that controls everything from the most critical basic functions (e.g. breathing, walking) to highly complex behaviors. Because of this interconnected nature of the nervous system, injury and disease in one part of the brain can have downstream effects on other networks even though those networks themselves are not injured. The Schulz Lab is interested in how loss of function in one “upstream” aspect of a neural network can have profound impacts on the uninjured “downstream” aspects of these systems.
The two major questions in the Schulz lab are how loss of input to neural networks changes the properties of the neurons of these networks, and what the impacts of those changes are for prospective recovery from injury. In particular, we are interested in how spinal cord injury changes the neural networks below the injury that are responsible for not only locomotion, but also the networks controlling fundamental and critical functions like bladder and bowel output.
We combine molecular expression profiling with electrophysiology to understand how neuron and network physiology change, as well as the cellular basis for those changes. We use mouse models of spinal cord injury and neurological disease to conduct these studies. However, the mammalian nervous system presents many difficulties for detailed mechanistic investigation. Therefore, in addition we use crustacean models (crabs and lobsters) to understand basic principles of neural network function and dysfunction following injury and perturbation.
Otopalik, A.G., Lane, B., Schulz, D.J., Marder, E. Innexin expression in electrically coupled motor circuits (2017) Neuroscience Letters, . Article in Press.
Schulz, D.J., Lane, B.J. Homeostatic plasticity of excitability in crustacean central pattern generator networks (2017) Current Opinion in Neurobiology, 43, pp. 7-14.
Lett, K.M., Garcia, V.J., Temporal, S., Bucher, D., Schulz, D.J. Removal of endogenous neuromodulators in a small motor network enhances responsiveness to neuromodulation (2017) Journal of Neurophysiology, 118 (3), pp. 1749-1761.
Kick, D.R., Schulz, D.J. Variability in neural networks (2018) eLife, 7, art. no. e34153, DOI: 10.7554/eLife.34153
Lane, B.J., Samarth, P., Ransdell, J.L., Nair, S.S., Schulz, D.J. Synergistic plasticity of intrinsic conductance and electrical coupling restores synchrony in an intact motor network (2016) eLife, 5 (AUGUST), art. no. e16879,
Northcutt, A.J., Lett, K.M., Garcia, V.B., Diester, C.M., Lane, B.J., Marder, E., Schulz, D.J. Deep sequencing of transcriptomes from the nervous systems of two decapod crustaceans to characterize genes important for neural circuit function and modulation (2016) BMC Genomics, 17 (1), art. no. 868,
Garcia, V.J., Daur, N., Temporal, S., Schulz, D.J., Bucher, D., (2015) Neuropeptide receptor transcript expression levels and magnitude of ionic current responses show cell type- specific differences in a small motor circuit. Journal of Neuroscience, 35:6786-6800.
Garcia, V.J., Daur, N., Temporal, S., Schulz, D.J., and Bucher, D. (2015). Neuropeptide receptor transcript expression levels and magnitude of ionic current responses show cell type- specific differences in a small motor circuit. Journal of Neuroscience 35, 6786-6800.
Villalon E, Schulz DJ, Waters ST (2014) Real-time PCR quantification of gene expression in embryonic mouse tissue. Methods in Molecular Biology 1092: 81-94.
Shruti S, Schulz DJ, Lett KM, Marder E (2014) Electrical coupling and innexin expression in the stomatogastric ganglion of the crab Cancer borealis. Journal of Neurophysiology 112: 2946-2958.
Garcia VB, Garcia ML, Schulz DJ (2014) Quantitative expression profiling in mouse spinal cord reveals changing relationships among channel and receptor mRNA levels across postnatal maturation. Neuroscience 277C: 321-333.
Temporal S, Lett KM, Schulz DJ (2014) Activity-dependent feedback regulates correlated ion channel mRNA levels in single identified motor neurons. Current Biology 24: 1899-1904.
Ransdell JL, Nair SS, Schulz DJ (2013) Neurons within the same network independently achieve conserved output by differentially balancing variable conductance magnitudes. Journal of Neuroscience 33: 9950-9956.
Ransdell JL, Temporal S, West NL, Leyrer ML, Schulz DJ (2013) Characterization of inward currents and channels underlying burst activity in motor neurons of the crab cardiac ganglion. Journal of Neurophysiology 110:42-54.
Ransdell JL, Nair SS, Schulz DJ (2012) Rapid homeostatic plasticity of intrinsic excitability in a central pattern generator network stabilizes functional neural network output. Journal of Neuroscience 32: 9649-9658
Nahar J, Lett KM, Schulz DJ (2012) Restoration of descending inputs fails to rescue activity following deafferentation of a motor network. Journal of Neurophysiology 108: 871-881.
Barry DM, Stevenson W, Bober BG, Wiese PJ, Dale JM, Barry GS, Byers NS, Strope JD, Chang R, Schulz DJ, Shah S, Calcutt NA, Gebremichael Y, Garcia ML (2012) Expansion of neurofilament medium C terminus increases axonal diameter independent of increases in conduction velocity or myelin thickness. Journal of Neuroscience 32: 6209-6219
Temporal S, Desai M, Khorkova O, Varghese G, Dai A, Schulz DJ, Golowasch J (2012) Neuromodulation independently determines correlated channel expression and conductance levels in motor neurons of the stomatogastric ganglion. Journal of Neurophysiology 107: 718- 727.
Honors & Awards
Selected honors and awards
William T. Kemper Fellowship for Teaching Excellence 2018
Richard F. and Sharon A. Keister Faculty Enhancement Award in Biological Sciences 2017
May 9, 2018
Exploring Life and Science: Student profile, Carrie Davis-Hansson
March 22, 2018
MU biological sciences professor awarded 2018 Kemper Fellowship for Teaching Excellence
Jan. 23, 2017
Recipients of 2017 Faculty Fellow Awards in Biological Sciences announced
Oct. 10, 2014
New study finds that neurons actively “fine tune” themselves at the genetic level
July 1, 2013
Study by Schulz lab shows nerve cells can work in different ways with same result
May 23, 2013
Schulz lab receives grant to conduct genetic study of Missouri crayfish
July 30, 2009
Biologist finds flexibility in nerve cell construction