There has been a revolution in understanding animal development in the last 25 years or so, but there is at least one area of development that has been relatively neglected and therefore remains largely mysterious. This is the intracellular programmes and timers that run in developing precursor cells and change the cells over time. The molecular mechanisms underlying these programmes are largely unknown. My colleagues and I have studied such programmes in two types of rodent neural precursor cells: those that give rise to oligodendrocytes, which make myelin in the CNS (central nervous system), and those that give rise to the various cell types in the retina.

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