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David McLean

Associate Professor

PhD, University of St Andrews, Scotland


Regions(s): Developmental Neuroscience; Brain and Behavior; Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience

Research interest(s): Development and function of locomotor circuits

Research Summary

Locomotion is a deceptively simple, yet essential behavior. We are interested in how neural circuits in the brainstem and spinal cord develop and ultimately control the speed and direction of locomotor movements. To do this, we study innate and learned exploratory and evasive behaviors in developing zebrafish using a combination of behavioral, imaging, electrophysiological and molecular approaches. By revealing basic principles of motor circuit organization, we hope to provide insights into disorders that affect our capacity to move, like Parkinson's disease, epilepsy or spinal injury. 

Selected Publications 

  • Kishore S, Cadoff EB, Agha MA, McLean DL. (2020). Orderly compartmental mapping of premotor inhibition in the developing zebrafish spinal cord. Science 370: 431-436.
  • Menelaou E, McLean DL. (2019). Hierarchical control of locomotion by distinct types of spinal V2a interneurons in zebrafish. Nat Commun 10: 4197.
  • Kumar M, Kishore S, Nasenbeny J, McLean DL, Kozorovitskiy Y. (2018). Integrated one- and two-photon scanned oblique plane illumination (SOPi) microscopy for rapid volumentric imaging. Opt Express 26: 13027-13041.
  • Bhattacharyya K, McLean DL, MacIver MA. (2017). Visual threat assessment and reticulospinal encoding of calibrated responses in larval zebrafish. Curr Biol 18: 2751-2762.
  • Harmon TC, Magaram U, McLean DL, Raman IM. (2017). Distinct responses of Purkinje neurons and roles of simple spikes during associative motor learning in larval zebrafish. elife 6: e22537.
  • Bagnall MW, McLean DL. (2014). Modular organization of axial microcircuits in zebrafish. Science 343: 197-200.
  • Wang WC, McLean DL. (2014). Selective responses to tonic descending commands by temporal summation in a spinal motor pool. Neuron 83: 708-721.
  • McLean DL, Fan J, Higashijima S, Hale ME, Fetcho JR. (2007). A topographic map of recruitment in spinal cord. Nature 446: 71-75.
  • McLean DL, Sillar KT. (2004). Metamodulation of a spinal locomotor network by nitric oxide. J Neurosci 24: 9561-9571. 

Selected Honors

  • 2011  Sloan Research Fellowship
  • 2010  Searle Scholar Award
  • 2009  Klingenstein Fellowship in the Neurosciences
  • 2009  Eppendorf and Science Prize for Neurobiology, Finalist
  • 2005  Human Frontier Science Program Short Term Fellowship
  • 2003  Ruth L. Kirschstein Individual National Research Service Award