Michelle L. Olsen

Associate Professor

  • PhD, Neurobiology, University of Alabama at Birmingham

The focus of the Olsen lab is to better understand the role of astrocytes in normal and abnormal central nervous system function.  There are more astrocytes in the brain and spinal cord in humans than any other cell type, yet, until recently this cell type has been thought of as a support cell to neurons and they have been given relatively little attention.  Emerging work suggests astrocytes contribute to all facets of normal brain function, while disrupted astrocyte function is implicated in epilepsy, neurodegenerative disease, depression, and neurodevelopmental disorders. Ongoing projects in the Olsen lab are aimed at understanding how astrocytes contribute to development and maturation of the central nervous system.
 
Dr. Olsen received her undergraduate training in Biochemistry from the University of Southern Oregon in 1999.  Her interest in astrocytes was developed early in her PhD training in the Department of Neurobiology at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. Astrocyte biology was also the focus of her post-doctoral training and her research focus as she launched her own independent career in the Department of Physiology at UAB in late 2010.

 

Research in the Olsen lab is focused on understanding the role of astrocytes in normal and abnormal central nervous system function.  There are more astrocytes in the brain and spinal cord in humans than any other cell type, yet, until recently this cell type has been thought of as a support cell to neurons and they have been given relatively little attention.  Emerging work suggests astrocytes contribute to all facets of normal brain function, while disrupted astrocyte function is implicated in epilepsy, neurodegenerative disease, depression, and neurodevelopmental disorders. Ongoing projects in the Olsen lab are aimed at understanding how astrocytes contribute to development and maturation of the central nervous system.

Training: My goal for each trainee is to empower them with critical reasoning and listening skills, teaching them to communicate effectively and to be open minded, giving them the greatest opportunity for success in whichever scientific field they chose. Since starting my research program in 2010, I have graduated two PHD and one accelerated MS student. I currently have four PhD seeking students and one post-doctoral fellow in the lab. I believe that undergraduate students play an important role in the research endeavor and have trained many undergraduate students-several of which have contributed to published work and all of which have matriculated into their desired programs.

Teaching: I was inspired to become a scientist by a few extraordinary professors. I consider this to be an important aspect of my position and assume this part of my job with great enthusiasm and a sense of responsibility. I am privileged to be a part of an academic environment which emphasizes the training of future leaders.

For more details visit Olsen Lab

 

Manuscripts

  • Behavioral and Motor Phenotypes in a Novel Rat Model of Rett Syndrome, KC Patterson, KM Arps, VE Hawkins, DK Mulkey and ML Olsen, Human Molecular Genetics, 2016, in press, PMID:27329765
  • Physiology and function of the glial inwardly rectifying potassium channel Kir4.1. SE Nwaobi, VA Cuddapah, KC Patterson, AC Randolph, and ML Olsen, review, Acta Neuropathologica (2016) March PMID: 26961251
  • Novel applications of magnetic cell sorting to analyze CNS cell-type specific gene and protein expression, PLos One (2016) LM Holt and ML Olsen, Feb 26;11(2) PMID 26919701
  • Emerging insight into the critical role of astrocyte ion channels in homeostasis and neuron-glia signaling. ML Olsen*, B Khahk, S Skatchkov, Z Min, N Rouach, Journal of Neuroscience (2015) 14;35(41):13827-35, *Corresponding Author PMCID PMC4604221
  • MECP2’s role in regulating neural activity: pathophysiological perspectives. VA Cuddapah, Nwaobi, SE, AK Percy, and ML Olsen, Degenerative Neurological and Neuromuscular Disease (2015) 5:103-116
  • Correlating gene-specific DNA methylation changes with expression and transcriptional activity of astrocytic KCNJ10 (Kir4.1), SE Nwaobi and ML Olsen, Journal of Visualized Experiments (2015) Sep(26)103 PMID 26436772
  • Elevated GFAP induces astrocyte dysfunction in caudal brain regions: a potential mechanism for hindbrain involved symptoms in type II Alexander Disease, HR Minkel, TZ Anwer, KM Arps, M Brenner, ML Olsen, Glia (2015) Dec;63(12)2285-97 PMID:26190408
  • Insufficient GLT-1 Glutamate Transport and Altered Astrocyte Biophysical Properties Contributes to Hyperexcitability in Cortical Dysplasia, , SL Campbell, JJ Hablitz and ML Olsen, Frontiers in Molecular Neuroscience (2014) Dec 17;8:425 PMID: 25565960
  • Astrocyte Kir4.1 ion channel deficits contribute to neuronal dysfunction in Huntington's disease model mice, X. Tong, Y Ao, GC Faas, SE Nwaobi, J Xu, MD Haustein, MA Anderson, I Mody, ML Olsen, MV Sofroniew, BS Khakh, Nature Neuroscience (2014) May;17(5):694-703 , 2014 PMID:24686787
  • Methyl-CpG-binding protein 2 (MEPC2) mutation type is associated with disease severity in Rett Syndrome, VA Cuddapah, RB Pillai, KV Shekar, JB Lane, KJ Motil, SA Skinner, G McGwin, DC Tarquinio5, DG Glaze, WE Kaufmann, AK Percy, JL Neul, ML Olsen, Journal of Medical Genetics (2014) Mar;51(3):152-8 2014 This article was featured as editor’s choice PMID 24399845
  • DNA methylation is a critical regulator of Kir4.1 in CNS development, SE Nwaobi, SR Peramsetty, E Lin and ML Olsen, Glia (2014) Mar;62(3):411-27, 2014 PMID:24415225
  • Development and validation of fluorescence- and automated patch clamp-based functional assays for the inward rectifier potassium channel Kir4.1, R Raphemot, R Kadakia, ML Olsen, S Banerjee, E Days, SS Smith, CD Weaver and JS Denton. Assay and Drug Development Technologies (2013) Nov-Dec;11(9-10):532-43 PMID: 24266659
  • Spinal Cord Injury in vivo Causes Wide-Spread, Persistent Loss of Kir4.1 and GLT-1: Potential Benefits of Treatment with 17-beta Estradiol, ML Olsen, SL Campbell, CL Floyd, H Sontheimer, Brain (2010) 133(Pt 4):1013-25 PMID: 20375134
  • Functional Implications for Kir4.1 Channels in Glial Biology: From K+ Buffering to Cell Differentiation, ML Olsen and H Sontheimer, Journal of Neurochemistry (2008) 107, 589–601 PMID:18691387
  • ClC3 Is a Critical Regulator of Cell Cycle in Normal and Malignant Cells, CM Habela, ML Olsen and H Sontheimer, Journal of Neuroscience (2008) 28(37):9205-17 PMID: 18784301
  • BK Channels are Coupled to IP3-receptors via Lipid Rafts: a Novel Mechanism for Coupling [Ca2+]i to Channel Activation, AK Weaver, ML Olsen, MB McFerrin and H Sontheimer, Journal of Biological Chemistry (2007) 26;282(43):31558-68 PMID: 17711864
  • Differential Distribution of Kir4.1 in Spinal Cord Astrocytes Suggests Regional Differences in K+ Homeostasis, ML Olsen, SL Campbell and H Sontheimer, Journal of Neurophysiology (2007) 98(2):786-93 PMCID: 2040512
  • Functional Expression of Kir4.1 Channels in Spinal Cord Astrocytes, ML Olsen, H Higashimori, SL Campbell, JJ Hablitz and H Sontheimer, Glia (2006) 53(5):516-28, cover art PMCID: 2553202
  • Modulation of Glioma BK (gBK) Channels via erbB2, ML Olsen, AK Weaver, P Ritch, H Sontheimer, Journal of Neuroscience Research (2005) 15;81(2):179-89 PMID: 15948146
  • Mislocalization of Kir Channels in Malignant Glia, ML Olsen, H. Sontheimer, Glia (2004) 46:63-73, 200, cover art PMCID: 2548404
  • Expression of Voltage-Gated Chloride Channels in Human Glioma Cells, ML Olsen, S. Schade, S.A. Lyons, M.D. Amaral, H. Sontheimer, Journal of Neuroscience (2003) 23(13)5572-5582 PMID: 12843258
  • The α2β2 isoform combination dominates the astrocytic Na+ /K+ -ATPase activity and is rendered nonfunctional by the α2.G301R familial hemiplegic migraine type 2-associated mutation. Stoica A, Larsen BR, Assentoft M, Holm R, Holt LM, Vilhardt F, Vilsen B, Lykke-Hartmann K, Olsen ML, MacAulay N. Glia. 2017 Aug 8. doi: 10.1002/glia.23194. [Epub ahead of print]
    PMID: 28787093, Similar articles: Select item 287608632.
  • Acute Increases in Protein O-GlcNAcylation Dampen Epileptiform Activity in Hippocampus. Stewart LT, Khan AU, Wang K, Pizarro D, Pati S, Buckingham SC, Olsen ML, Chatham JC, McMahon LL.
    J Neurosci. 2017 Aug 23;37(34):8207-8215. doi: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.0173-16.2017. Epub 2017 Jul 31.
    PMID:28760863

For a full list of Dr. Olsen's publications,  visit PubMed.

Book Chapters

  • Voltage-Gated Ion Channels in Glial Cells, ML Olsen, H Sontheimer. Neuroglia, 2nd Edition, Oxford University Press, pp112-130, 2004
  • Whole-Cell Patch Clamp Recordings, Patch-Clamp Analysis: Advanced Techniques, Second Edition, H Sontheimer and ML Olsen. Humana Press, pp35-68, 2008
  • Ionic Channels in Glia. ML Olsen and H Sontheimer, Encyclopedia of Neuroscience, Oxford: Academic Press, volume 5, pp. 237-247. 2009 book cover art
  • Potassium Channel Function in Astrocytes, Astrocytes: Methods and Protocols, ML Olsen. Humana Press, Invited Review, ed. R. Milner, Springer Press, NY, 2012
  • Ionic Channels in Glia. Encyclopedia of Neuroscience, H Sontheimer and ML Olsen, Oxford: Academic Press, Invited update, in press, 2015
  • (540) 231-7394
  • molsen1@vt.edu
  • Life Sciences Building (LS1), Room 213
    Biocomplexity Institute (BI), Room 278 & 280 (Lab)
    Blacksburg, VA 24061