Katherine L. Thompson-Peer, Ph.D.

Katherine L. Thompson-Peer, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor


Dr. Katherine (Katie) Thompson-Peer earned her bachelor’s degree in Biology from the University of Pennsylvania, followed by a two-year stint at the Johns Hopkins University with Alex Kolodkin.  She earned her Ph.D. from Harvard University working with Josh Kaplan, and was a postdoctoral fellow with Yuh-Nung and Lily Jan at the University of California, San Francisco, and the Howard Hughes Medical Institute.  Her postdoctoral work was supported by the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke F32 and K99/R00 fellowships, as well as the University of California Office of the President’s Postdoctoral Fellowship.  She opened her lab at UC Irvine, in the Department of Developmental and Cell Biology, in April 2019.  In addition to the SCRC, Dr. Thompson-Peer is also a fellow with the Reeve-Irvine Research Center and the Center for the Neurobiology of Learning and Memory.

Research in Lay Terms

Neurons are the main cell type in an animal’s nervous system.  They are composed of three main parts: the cell body, a receptive antennae that receives signals, and a long cable that sends information to target cells.  The branches of the antennae are called dendrites, and together they form the dendrite arbor of the nerve cell.  While there is significant research into what controls when or how neurons can regenerate the long cable when it is injured, there is extremely little information about how neurons can regenerate dendrites after they are injured.  Dendrite regeneration is robust but imperfect.  Our lab studies the mechanisms of how neurons regenerate dendrites, both what allows them to regenerate dendrites as well as they do, and what prevents neurons from perfectly regrowing a new dendrite arbor after injury.  Because dendrites can be injured in a variety of clinical conditions, like stroke, traumatic brain injury, and neurodegenerative disease, our work could pave the way for a better understanding of how to respond to many different injuries.  

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Email: ktpeer@uci.edu