Department of Physiology and Biophysics
Professor of Physiology & Neuroscience
Cytoskeleton and cell motility; Molecular and Cellular Biology; Molecular Basis of Disease; Neurobiology; Neurodegenerative disorders; Neuropharmacology; Pathophysiology; Signal Transduction
Synaptic Mechanisms of Mental Health and Disorders
Our research goal is to understand the synaptic action of various neuromodulators that are linked to mental health and illness, including dopamine, stress hormones, and disease susceptibility genes. Specifically, we try to understand how these neuromodulators regulate glutamatergic and GABAergic transmission in prefrontal cortex (PFC), which is important for emotional and cognitive control under normal conditions. We also try to understand how the aberrant action of neuromodulators under pathological conditions leads to dysregulation of synaptic transmission in PFC, which is commonly implicated in brain disorders.
The major techniques used in our studies include:
• whole-cell patch-clamp recordings of synaptic currents,
• viral-based in vivo gene transfer,
• biochemical and immunocytochemical detection of synaptic proteins,
• molecular analysis of genetic and epigenetic alterations,
• chemogenetic manipulation of neuronal circuits,
• behavioral assays.
By integrating the multidisciplinary approaches, we have been investigating the unique and convergent actions of neuromodulators on postsynaptic glutamate and GABAA receptors, and their contributions to the pathogenesis of a variety of mental disorders, including ADHD, autism, schizophrenia, depression, PTSD and Alzheimer's disease.