Cody J. Smith Elizabeth and Michael Gallagher Associate Professor

Neural Development and Regeneration
Cody J. Smith

Research Interests:

There is a gap in our understanding of how the precise organization of cells in the nervous system impacts human behavior and disease. The Smith lab’s goal is to address this by understanding how stem cells and other cell populations build and rebuild the nervous system. Using advanced imaging approaches with molecular and cellular biology techniques we have the opportunity to reveal new biological processes that occur during development and regeneration of the nervous system, investigate the blueprint and construction of those processes and then discover the overall behavioral impact of disrupting such biology. These strategies will help us gain insight into how diseases manifest themselves in the clinic. The basic biology they aim to discover can provide insight into neurodevelopmental disorders such as Charcot Marie Tooth Disorder (CMT), neurodegenerative diseases like Multiple Sclerosis (MS) and nerve regeneration following injuries like spinal cord injury (SCI). The Smith lab is currently pursuing:

  • What organizational principles build/re-build selective cellular boundaries? How glial and neuronal populations assemble at specific regions of the nervous system is poorly understood. However, both CNS and PNS glial cell-types must interact and coordinate their differentiation and maturation as the neurons do the same. By investigating the developmental blueprint for assembling nervous system regions we hope to provide insight into how regeneration of nerves either succeeds or fails.
  • How do neurons and glia communicate and coordinate to establish functional circuits? The precise wiring of the nervous system ensures animals can interact and respond to their environment. These behavioral circuits can be rooted in the stages of development when neurons are pathfinding through the nervous system and building synaptic connections with their precise neuronal partners. However, in a crowded space like the spinal cord, retina and brain, the ability for neurons to specifically connect to “correct” neurons while simultaneously avoid or eliminate “incorrect” neurons is an impressive feat. We are interested in understanding the role of glial cells in coordinating these connections.



  • Elizabeth and Michael Gallagher Associate Professor, Department of Biological Sciences, Center for Stem Cells and Regenerative Medicine 2021-Present
  • Alfred P. Sloan Fellow of Neuroscience 2017
  • Elizabeth and Michael Gallagher Assistant Professor, Department of Biological Sciences, Center for Stem Cells and Regenerative Medicine 2016-2021
  • Postdoctoral Fellow, Department of Biology, University of Virginia, Charlottesville VA 2012-2016
  • PhD, Cell and Developmental Biology, Vanderbilt University 2012
  • B.S., Biology, Mercyhurst University 2007


Recent Papers: