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The Art in Science

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Cynthia DeLong, Ph.D., Research Lab Specialist Senior (O’Shea Laboratory), Department of Cell and Developmental Biology, University of Michigan Medical School

Bipolar disorder is a severe mood disorder that affects more than 5.7 million adult Americans. Though symptoms of this disease do not develop until the mid 20’s, research indicates that the disease has its beginning in childhood, or earlier. New technology that allows researchers to “reprogram” skin cells of a patient, first into embryonic stem cells and then into different types of brain cells, like the neurons shown here, gives us a novel opportunity to study the cell biology behind the development of bipolar disorder, with the goal of improving treatments. The green “bubbles” seen here are neuron cell bodies; the red and purple “strings” are the cell projections, or neurites, which form a network to relay chemical signals between neurons.