Notice and Invitation
Oral Presentation of Dissertation Proposal
Department of Bioengineering, George Mason University

Masood A. Akram
PharmD, University of Karachi, Pakistan

´╗┐Morphological Classification of Glia: a Neuroinformatics Approach

Monday, August 17, 2020, 2:00pm-4:00pm

Via Webex Meeting
(link below)
All are invited to attend.

Dr. Giorgio A. Ascoli, Dissertation Director
Dr. Qi Wei, Committee Chair
Dr. Caroline Hoemann
Dr. Patrick McKnight
Cellular classification has been a long-studied topic since the inception of neuroscience, because it provides the fundamental parts list underling brain structure and function: in other words, it strives to identify the building blocks defining the key neural correlates of learning, memory and cognition. The main methods to investigate cells in the nervous system include morphology, electrophysiology, and biochemistry. All three of these aspects have witnessed tremendous technological breakthroughs in recent years. In particular, morphological studies have benefited from substantial advancement in microscopy, tracing software, computational modeling, and machine learning. Traditionally, classification techniques in neuroscience have focused on neurons; far fewer investigations have strived to achieve a comprehensive classification of glia, despite the similar abundance of these cells relative to neurons. Recognizing the morphological signatures that distinguish glia from neurons, as well as those best suited to categorize the main types of glia, is an important yet unfulfilled step in compiling a complete cell census of the nervous system of any organism.
NeuroMorpho.Org is a public online repository of digital reconstructions of neuronal and glial morphology created and maintained by the Center for Neural Informatics at George Mason University. Data are continuously contributed by hundreds of laboratories worldwide and have been downloaded tens of millions of times. Every reconstruction consists of detailed 3D representation of branch geometry. Moreover, each cell entry in the database is accompanied by metadata describing the animal subject (species, strain, sex, age, and weight), anatomy (brain region, sub-region, cell type, and sub-type), experimental details (protocol, condition, histology, microscopy, and tracing), as well as a battery of standard parameters extracted with L-Measure, a tool used for the calculation of morphometric features (length, volume, angles, topological asymmetry, fractal dimension, diameter, etc.). Glial cells were introduced to NeuroMorpho.Org in version 7.1 and now constitute 8% of total reconstructions with the latest 8.0 version release. This provides an unprecedented opportunity to explore the diversity of these cells across multiple labs, research designs, and experimental methods.

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