How do locomotor neuronal circuits shape animal behaviors?

Map the locomotion circuits

Defining neuronal substrates for locomotor circuits

Identify molecular mechanisms

Identifying molecular mechanisms underlying locomotion circuit development and evolution

Understand animal behaviors

Understanding the role of each circuit component in the regulation of animal behaviors

Sub Topics






In the end we expect to apply the lessons from studying model organisms for developing ways to help people with motor function defects such as spinal cord injuries and ALS.



New paper in eLife

Little skate genome paper is published in the eLife.

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UGRP paper in IJMS

UGRP paper is published in the International Journal of Molecular Sciences.

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New paper in Cell Reports

Molecular Logic of Spinocerebellar Tract Neuron Diversity and Connectivity. Baek M, Menon V, Jessell TM, Hantman AW, Dasen JS. Cell Reports. 2019; 27(9):2620-2635. ISSN: 2211-1247.

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The best science images of the year: 2018 in pictures

Our skate paper is selected as one of the best science images in 2018 by the journal Nature

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New paper in JoVE journal

Wenyue Guan, Lalanti Venkatasubramanian, Myungin Baek, Richard S. Mann, Jonathan Enriquez (JoVE, 2018)

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Recruiting Lab members

Looking for Graduate students (MS, PhD, MS-PhD).

Before Semester starts, you could have a chance to experience our lab through Internships.

Please find Admission guide Here:

Admission guide



During locomotion, motor neurons are activated in a rhythmic and patterned manner. The motor neuron activites are under the control of locomotor circuits in the spinal cord, where motor neurons receive diverse inputs including sensory inputs, local interneuron inputs, desending inputs from the brain.

What we do:

  • 1
    Identifying the molecular mechanisms underlying locomotor circuit development.
  • 2
    Defining neuronal substrates for locomotor circuits.
  • 3
    Understanding the role of genetic programs that regulate motor circuit development in the evolution of animal behaviors.

What we aim for:


In the end, we aim to apply the lessons from these studies to developing ways to help people affected by motor function defects such as spinal cord injuries and ALS.

For achieving these scientific goals, we are applying Cutting edge molecular, genetic, developmental, and neurogenetic tools to Diverse model organisms including mouse, chicken, and skate.

The news in The New York Times explains what we are doing and where we are going:

New York Times




Yoo, D. A., Park, J., Lee, C., Song, I., Lee, Y. H., Yun, T., Lee, H., Heguy, A., Han, J. Y., Dasen, J. S., Kim, H., & Baek, M. (2022, October 26). Little skate genome provides insights into genetic programs essential for limb-based locomotion. eLife. Retrieved October 27, 2022, from


Yun, T., Shin, S., Bang, K., Lee, M., Cho, J. A., & Baek, M. (2021). Skin Wound Healing Rate in Fish Depends on Species and Microbiota. International journal of molecular sciences, 22(15), 7804.

Cell Reports


Baek M, Menon V, Jessell TM, Hantman AW, Dasen JS. Molecular Logic of Spinocerebellar Tract Neuron Diversity and Connectivity. Cell Reports. 2019; 27(9):2620-2635. ISSN: 2211-1247.


Guan W., Venkatasubramanian L., Baek M, Mann RS, Enriquez J. Visualize Drosophila Leg Motor Neuron Axons Through the Adult Cuticle. J Vis Exp. 2018(140). ISSN: 1940-087X



Jung H*, Baek M*, D’Elia KP, Boisvert C, Currie PD, Tay B-H, Venkatesh B, Brown SM, Heguy A, Schoppik D, Dasen JS. The Ancient origins of neural substrates for land walking. Cell. 2018; 172(4):667- 682. * co-first authors. ISSN: 0092-8674.


Sweeney LB, Bikoff JB, Gabitto MI, Brenner-Morton S, Baek M, Yang JH, Tabak EG, Dasen JS, Kintner CR, Jessell TM. Origin and Segmental Diversity of Spinal Inhibitory Interneurons. Neuron. 2018 ;97(2):341-355. ISSN: 0896-6273.

Cell Reports


Baek M, Pivetta C, Liu J-P, Arber S, Dasen JS. Columnar-intrinsic cues shape premotor input specificity in locomotor circuits. Cell Reports. 2017;21(4):867-77. ISSN: 2211-1247.

Nature Neuroscience

Dimidschstein J, Chen Q, Tremblay R, Rogers SL, Saldi GA, Guo L, Xu Q, Liu R, Lu C, Chu J, Grimley JS, Krostag AR, Kaykas A, Avery MC, Rashid MS, Baek M, Jacob AL, Smith GB, Wilson DE, Kosche G, Kruglikov I, Rusielewicz T, Kotak VC, Mowery TM, Anderson SA, Callaway EM, Dasen JS, Fitzpatrick D, Fossati V, Long MA, Noggle S, Reynolds JH, Sanes DH, Rudy B, Feng G, Fishell G. A viral strategy for targeting and manipulating interneurons across vertebrate species. Nat Neurosci. 2016;19(12):1743-9. ISSN: 1097-6256.


Enriquez J, Venkatasubramanian L, Baek M, Peterson M, Aghayeva U, Mann RS. Specification of individual adult motor neuron morphologies by combinatorial transcription factor codes. Neuron. 2015;86(4):955-70. ISSN: 0896-6273.



Baek M, Enriquez J, Mann RS. Dual role for Hox genes and Hox co-factors in conferring leg motoneuron survival and identity in Drosophila. Development. 2013;140(9):2027-38. ISSN: 0950-1991.

J Neuro


Baek M, Mann RS. Lineage and birth date specify motor neuron targeting and dendritic architecture in adult Drosophila. J Neurosci. 2009;29(21):6904-16. ISSN: 0270-6474.

Molecules and Cells

Lee S, Lee H-S, Baek M, Lee D-Y, Bang Y-J, Cho H-N, Lee Y-S, Ha J-H, Kim H-Y, Jeoung D-I. MAPK signaling is involved in camptothecin-induced cell death. Molecules & Cells. 2002;14(3). ISSN: ISSN: 1016-8478.

Journal of microbiology and biotechnology

Jeoung D, Kim J-H, Lee Y-H, Baek M, Lee S, Baek N-I, Kim H-Y. cDNA microarray analysis of transcriptional response to hyperin in human gastric cancer cells. Journal of microbiology and biotechnology.

Biotechnology Letters

Lee H, Lee S, Baek M, Kim H-Y, Jeoung D-I. Expression profile analysis of trichostatin A in human gastric cancer cells. Biotechnology Letters. 2002;24(5). ISSN: 0141-5492.

Biotechnology letters

Jeoung D, Oh S-J, Lee S, Baek M, Lee Y-H, Baek N-I, Kim H-Y. Microarray analysis of piceatannol-induced changes in gene expression in human gastric cancer cells. Biotechnology letters. 2002;24(6):463-7. ISSN: 0141-5492.

Biotechnology letters

Lee S, Baek M, Kim H-Y, Ha J-H, Jeoung D-I. Mechanism of doxorubicin-induced cell death and expression profile analysis. Biotechnology Letters. 2002;24(14):1147-51. ISSN: 0141-5492.

Cancer letters

Lee S*, Baek M*, Yang H, Bang Y-J, Kim WH, Ha J-H, Kim D-K, Jeoung D-I. Identification of genes differentially expressed between gastric cancers and normal gastric mucosa with cDNA microarrays. Cancer letters. 2002;184(2):197-206. * co-first authors. ISSN: 0304-3835.

Contact details

If you're interested in our lab, please contact Prof. Myungin Baek. It is highly recommened to send a copy of your personal statement and transcript to Prof. Baek before applying to school.