Institute for Integrative Genome Biology


Monica CarsonMonica Carson, J

Professor of Biomedical Sciences;
Department Chair;
Director, Center for Glial-Neuronal Interactions

Mailing Address:

Biomedical Sciences
Webber Hall /1274
University of California
Riverside, CA 92521

Phone: (951) 827-6089
Email: monica.carson@ucr.edu

UCR Living the Promise Profile


PhD 2000 University of Pennsylvania

College/Division Affiliation:

Division of Biomedical Sciences

Center/Inst Affiliation(s):

Stem Cell Center
Center for Glial-Neuronal Interactions

Areas Of Expertise:

The Role of Microglia in the Healthy and Diseased Central Nervous System

Research Summary:

The role of microglia in the central nervous system (CNS)

Microglia in the healthy adult CNS reaching out to all elements of its environment
Co-cultures of embryonic microglia (green) hippocampal neurons (red)
Microglia are the tissue macrophage of the brain and spinal cord. Their activation is among the earliest responses to almost any change in CNS physiology. Found scattered throughout the CNS, these cells are strategically located to regulate the onset, progression and termination of CNS inflammatory responses.

To better understand the relative contributions of microglia toward neuroprotection and neurodegeneration, we are taking two different approaches. First, using transgenic mouse models of CNS inflammation, we are examining how microglia and T cells cross-regulate microglial activation and T cell effector function by antigen-dependent and independent mechanisms. Second, using TOGA® technology, we have comprehensively examined novel and known gene expression in microglia and identified molecules that distinguish microglia from macrophages and dendritic cells or that are regulated by inflammatory signals. When examined in vivo, we find that these TOGA®-identified molecules are heterogeneously expressed by different subsets of microglia located in different brain regions and even within a single brain region. We are currently examining the roles of these microglial subsets in the healthy and inflamed CNS, contrasting normal murine CNS development with defined pathologies in murine models of CNS autoimmunity and Alzheimer’s disease.

In aggregate our studies demonstrate that:

1) Microglia are a CNS-specific type of tissue macrophage that differ from inflammatory macrophages that acutely infiltrate the CNS.

2) Microglia interactions with the immune system can actually be beneficial for the CNS.

3) Microglia are heterogeneous in the healthy adult CNS, perhaps reflecting the different needs of the diverse neuronal populations they defend and support.

4) Microglial activation is not merely on versus off. Rather, activation is exquisitely tailored to CNS region and to the activating stimulus.

Related Press Releases:

Selected Publications:

List of publications from HubMed

Lab Personnel:

Davis, Deirdre
Graduate Student Researcher —
Melchior, Benoit
Graduate Student Researcher —
Puntambekar, Shweta
Graduate Student Researcher —
Vasquez, Jacob
Graduate Student Researcher —

More Information

General Campus Information

University of California, Riverside
900 University Ave.
Riverside, CA 92521
Tel: (951) 827-1012

Career OpportunitiesUCR Libraries
Campus StatusDirections to UCR

Genomics Information

Institute of Integrative Genome Biology
2150 Batchelor Hall

Tel: (951) 827-7177
E-mail: Aurelia Espinoza, Managing Director