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BENNETT LAB

University of Pennsylvania

The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia

 

Research Questions

Microglia are the brain’s resident immune cells. They have specialized functions, intriguing developmental origins, and a remarkable ability to rapidly populate the brain. They are both similar and different from blood-derived macrophages, and those resident in other tissues. To more deeply understand what microglia do, we focus on three central questions:

What makes microglia different from other macrophages?

What is microglial identity?

Microglia are highly specialized tissue macrophages. We are interested in identifying the external signals and intrinsic properties responsible for the unique attributes of microglia.

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How to replace microglia?

We are developing methods to deplete microglia and replace them with transplanted surrogates that can be engineered to treat disease. Refining these methods requires improved understanding of how macrophages enter and colonize the brain.

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How do microglia contribute to health and disease?

We utilize macrophage transplantation to understand how microglia are involved in brain disease, and how to leverage them for treatment.

PUBLICATIONS

A Combination of Ontogeny and CNS Environment Establishes Microglial Identity

Neuron 2018 | DOI: 10.1016/j.neuron.2018.05.014

Diverse Requirements for Microglial Survival, Specification, and Function Revealed by Defined-Medium Cultures

Neuron 2017 | DOI: 10.1016/j.neuron.2017.04.043

Neurotoxic reactive astrocytes are induced by activated microglia

Nature 2017 | DOI: 10.1038/nature21029

New tools for studying microglia in the mouse and human CNS

Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America 2016 | DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1525528113

Isolation and Culture of Microglia

Current Protocols in Immunology 2018 | DOI: 10.1002/cpim.70

Full publication list for Dr. Bennett: orcid.org/0000-0003-2570-0620

Biosketch

PEOPLE

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Frederick “Chris” Bennett, M.D.  Principal Investigator  Chris is a glial cell biologist, board certified psychiatrist, and proud graduate of two -Fords: Haverford College and Stanford University. He is forever grateful to Ben Barres for teaching him to think hard about the right questions. He is passionate about understanding microglia in order to improve treatment of brain diseases. He is equally passionate about mentoring exceptional scientists.

Frederick “Chris” Bennett, M.D.

Principal Investigator

Chris is a glial cell biologist, board certified psychiatrist, and proud graduate of two -Fords: Haverford College and Stanford University. He is forever grateful to Ben Barres for teaching him to think hard about the right questions. He is passionate about understanding microglia in order to improve treatment of brain diseases. He is equally passionate about mentoring exceptional scientists.

POST
DOCTORAL
FELLOWS

GRADUATE
STUDENTS

LAB
STAFF

Dave Marzan, PhD  Postdoctoral Fellow  Dave was born and raised in Southern California. He received his B.S. in Neuroscience and Physiology at UC San Diego where he researched psychopharmacology of schizophrenia. Dave chose to pursue his Ph.D. at New York University School of Medicine/ NYU Neuroscience Institute. Dave investigated the role of microglia in mouse models of demyelination and remyelination in the lab of James Salzer, M.D., Ph.D. Through the use of genetic fate mapping, pharmacological manipulation of microglia, survival surgeries, and histology- Dave determined that microglia are a self renewing population of CNS resident macrophages and CSF1R-CSF1 signaling drives these cells into a demyelinating phenotype. During his time at NYU, Dave was awarded the Kirschstein-NRSA predoctoral fellowship from the NIH, and was selected as a Society for Neuroscience Scholar. In 2018, Dave successfully defended his dissertation and earned his Ph.D in Neuroscience and Physiology.

Dave Marzan, PhD

Postdoctoral Fellow

Dave was born and raised in Southern California. He received his B.S. in Neuroscience and Physiology at UC San Diego where he researched psychopharmacology of schizophrenia. Dave chose to pursue his Ph.D. at New York University School of Medicine/ NYU Neuroscience Institute. Dave investigated the role of microglia in mouse models of demyelination and remyelination in the lab of James Salzer, M.D., Ph.D. Through the use of genetic fate mapping, pharmacological manipulation of microglia, survival surgeries, and histology- Dave determined that microglia are a self renewing population of CNS resident macrophages and CSF1R-CSF1 signaling drives these cells into a demyelinating phenotype. During his time at NYU, Dave was awarded the Kirschstein-NRSA predoctoral fellowship from the NIH, and was selected as a Society for Neuroscience Scholar. In 2018, Dave successfully defended his dissertation and earned his Ph.D in Neuroscience and Physiology.

Kelsey Nemec, BS  Graduate Student  Born and raised in southeastern Wisconsin, Kelsey received her BS degrees in Neurobiology and Psychology from the University of Wisconsin-Madison (Go Badgers!). Now a graduate student at UPenn, she is a member of the Neuroscience Graduate Group and is an NSF Graduate Research Fellow. Having studied neurogenesis, immunology, and brain plasticity in her previous labs, Kelsey is excited to integrate these fields and research the role of microglia in various brain diseases.

Kelsey Nemec, BS

Graduate Student

Born and raised in southeastern Wisconsin, Kelsey received her BS degrees in Neurobiology and Psychology from the University of Wisconsin-Madison (Go Badgers!). Now a graduate student at UPenn, she is a member of the Neuroscience Graduate Group and is an NSF Graduate Research Fellow. Having studied neurogenesis, immunology, and brain plasticity in her previous labs, Kelsey is excited to integrate these fields and research the role of microglia in various brain diseases.

Fazeela Yaqoob, MS  Research Associate  Fazeela completed her graduate research at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital under the supervision of Dr. Stephen Waggoner. Her graduate work revolved around the immune-regulatory functions of Natural Killer (NK) cells. In the Bennett lab, she wants to keep exploring microglia and is further interested in elucidating their roles in neurodegenerative diseases and its treatment. She loves to try new tools and techniques to explore underlying mechanisms of biological questions.

Fazeela Yaqoob, MS

Research Associate

Fazeela completed her graduate research at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital under the supervision of Dr. Stephen Waggoner. Her graduate work revolved around the immune-regulatory functions of Natural Killer (NK) cells. In the Bennett lab, she wants to keep exploring microglia and is further interested in elucidating their roles in neurodegenerative diseases and its treatment. She loves to try new tools and techniques to explore underlying mechanisms of biological questions.

Carleigh O’Brien, PhD  Postdoctoral Fellow  Born and raised in Indiana, Carleigh received her B.A. degrees in Biology and French at DePauw University and her Ph.D. in Microbiology and Immunology from the University of Virginia. She has always been interested in mechanisms of communication between the immune system and nervous system, and she began integrating these fields in her graduate work, where she focused on how T cell responses are regulated during chronic infection in the central nervous system. She continues to be interested in neuroimmune interactions and how bone-marrow-derived immune cells influence the brain environment during homeostasis and disease. In her free time, you can find her playing volleyball or watching horror movies.

Carleigh O’Brien, PhD

Postdoctoral Fellow

Born and raised in Indiana, Carleigh received her B.A. degrees in Biology and French at DePauw University and her Ph.D. in Microbiology and Immunology from the University of Virginia. She has always been interested in mechanisms of communication between the immune system and nervous system, and she began integrating these fields in her graduate work, where she focused on how T cell responses are regulated during chronic infection in the central nervous system. She continues to be interested in neuroimmune interactions and how bone-marrow-derived immune cells influence the brain environment during homeostasis and disease. In her free time, you can find her playing volleyball or watching horror movies.

Matias Porras Paniagua, BS  Graduate Student  (Co-Mentored with Saar Gill)  Born in Bogota Colombia, Matias is interested in exploring the application of genetically engineered hematopoietic stem cells for the treatment of neurological diseases. Matias is a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Bioengineering at Penn pursuing a dual degree in statistics at the Wharton School. Matias’ past research experience revolved around developing drug delivery with a focus on polymer nanoparticles, layer-by-layer self-assembly and viral vectors as delivery mechanisms. Matias received his BS in Chemical-Biological Engineering from MIT and an MS in Management Science & Engineering from Stanford University. Outside of academics, Matias loves to travel and learn foreign languages.

Matias Porras Paniagua, BS

Graduate Student
(Co-Mentored with Saar Gill)

Born in Bogota Colombia, Matias is interested in exploring the application of genetically engineered hematopoietic stem cells for the treatment of neurological diseases. Matias is a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Bioengineering at Penn pursuing a dual degree in statistics at the Wharton School. Matias’ past research experience revolved around developing drug delivery with a focus on polymer nanoparticles, layer-by-layer self-assembly and viral vectors as delivery mechanisms. Matias received his BS in Chemical-Biological Engineering from MIT and an MS in Management Science & Engineering from Stanford University. Outside of academics, Matias loves to travel and learn foreign languages.

Graham Peet, BS  Research Specialist  Graham is a Seattle native who has lived in Philly for the last four years while attending Haverford College where he majored in Biology. He wrote his undergraduate thesis in molecular neurobiology with Prof. Roshan Jain studying circuit components of the acoustic startle response in zebrafish. He is excited to delve into a partially new field, learn new things, and help make exciting discoveries with the Bennett lab.

Graham Peet, BS

Research Specialist

Graham is a Seattle native who has lived in Philly for the last four years while attending Haverford College where he majored in Biology. He wrote his undergraduate thesis in molecular neurobiology with Prof. Roshan Jain studying circuit components of the acoustic startle response in zebrafish. He is excited to delve into a partially new field, learn new things, and help make exciting discoveries with the Bennett lab.

 
Sonia Lombroso, BS  Rotation Student  Born and raised in Connecticut, Sonia obtained her B.A. in Biology and French at Wesleyan University. As a current PhD candidate in Pharmacology at the University of Pennsylvania, Sonia has an interest in the molecular underpinnings of neuropsychiatric disease. She is particularly interested in aberrant pathways in neural cell populations. In the Bennett Lab, Sonia hopes to expand her understanding of microglia and their identity. In her free time, Sonia loves to bike, play volleyball, and has never met a dog she didn’t want to pet.

Sonia Lombroso, BS

Rotation Student

Born and raised in Connecticut, Sonia obtained her B.A. in Biology and French at Wesleyan University. As a current PhD candidate in Pharmacology at the University of Pennsylvania, Sonia has an interest in the molecular underpinnings of neuropsychiatric disease. She is particularly interested in aberrant pathways in neural cell populations. In the Bennett Lab, Sonia hopes to expand her understanding of microglia and their identity. In her free time, Sonia loves to bike, play volleyball, and has never met a dog she didn’t want to pet.

 

We are expanding! Please contact us to learn about opportunities to join our growing research group.

news

October 2019 – Dr. Bennett is awarded the CMEM Research Grant

August 2019 – Sonia Lombroso (PGG Graduate Student) joins the lab as a Rotation Student

July 2019 – Carleigh O’Brien (Postdoctoral Fellow) joins the Bennett Lab

June 2019 – Dr. Bennett is awarded a K08 Mentored Clinical Scientist Research Career Development Award

June 2019 – Graham Peet (Research Specialist) joins the Bennett Lab

May 2019 – Matias Porras Paniagua (Bioengineering/Statistics Graduate Student) joins the Bennett Lab (co-mentored by Dr. Saar Gill)

May 2019 – Dave Marzan (Postdoctoral Fellow) is awarded the IRACDA/PennPort Fellowship

April 2019 – Kelsey Nemec (NGG Graduate Student) joins the Bennett Lab

April 2019 – Kelsey Nemec (NGG Graduate Student) is awarded the NSF Graduate Research Fellowship

March 2019 – Kelsey Nemec (NGG Graduate Student) joins the lab as a Rotation Student 

January 2019 – Dave Marzan (Postdoctoral Fellow) and Fazeela Yaqoob (Research Associate) join the Bennett Lab

January 2019 – The Bennett Lab officially opens at The University of Pennsylvania!

JOIN

 Please reach out if you would like to explore opportunities to join us!

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