Theresa is intersted in the embryonic development of the nervous system and uses zebrafish as a model system. In her PhD project she focussed on a the Brain-specific homeobox (Bsx) transcription factor described multiple functions it plays during neuronal differentiation. She found that Bsx is crucial for differentiation of all cell types in the pineal gland, a small neuroendocrine center in the diencephalon, most well known for its role in regulating circadian functions. During zebrafish embryonic development the pineal complex also exerts another important function. Between the first and second day after fertilization cells in the embryonic pineal gland anlage migrate to the left. Ther they form the parapineal gland which is necessary for a subsequent asymmetric differentiation of the habenula, a structure which is associated with multiple important neuronal functions including pain processing, learning, anxiety and stress responses. Upon loss of Bsx the circadian hormone melatonin cannot be produced in the pineal gland. Furthermore, the parapineal does ot form and as a consequence the habenula develops symmetrically. There, together with her PhD mentor Wolfgang Driever, published these findings in the journal Development. You can find the article here and the press release from the University of Freiburg here.

You can find a full list of Theresas publications here.

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