Laboratory of Synapse Biology
Our brain is made up of billions of neurons that are precisely connected into neural circuits, forming an immensely complex network that encodes our thoughts, memories and personalities. Our lab aims to unravel the molecular mechanisms that control neuronal connectivity in developing circuits, and determine how perturbations in this process affect cognitive function.
Precise synaptic connectivity is essential for proper information processing in neural circuits. Understanding how the extraordinary specificity of neural wiring is achieved and maintained is important, as changes in connectivity, composition and function of synapses are thought to underlie memory processes and brain disorders such as autism and Alzheimer’s disease.
Our research focuses on the role of cell-surface interactions in specifying synaptic connectivity. Our main objective is to understand the molecular and cellular mechanisms that determine where and when synaptic connections form; how these connections change with experience, and how they are affected in disease.
Elucidating the cell-surface interactions that specify and maintain the synaptic network will not only increase our understanding of neural circuit formation, function and dysfunction; the implication of many of these proteins in neurodevelopmental and psychiatric disorders, as well as their surface localization, make them potential therapeutic targets.