Cell Biology and Neuroscience
Trying to understand the cellular and synaptic substrates underlying innocuous touch perception by elucidating the functional organization of sensory neurons in mouse hairy skin and uncovering the neural codes of touch perception in the spinal cord dorsal horn.
Molecular mechanisms underlying sensory and cognitive function in mouse models of human diseases. The lab is interested in understanding how mutations in chromatin remodeling proteins results in hyperactivity and circling behavior in mutant mice. Identifying transcriptome changes in affected neurons by deep sequencing will help us understand how the activity and development of these neurons have been altered. Our goal is to bridge the molecular changes in neurons to the abnormal behavior observed in these mouse models.
Sensory processing, decision-making, and neural plasticity in mice. Record and manipulate specific neurons and neural circuits as mice perform learned tactile behaviors to understand sensory-guided decision-making from the synaptic to the network levels. We are also interested in how brain injury and neurological disorders impact neuronal activity and behavior.
Our lab models human neurodevelopmental disorders in mouse with a particular focus on Tourette Syndrome (TS). Despite the prevalence of TS in the general population (~1/100 individuals), the underlying pathophysiology is poorly understood. We are currently using CRISPR-based approaches to generate mouse models that harbor recently discovered human point mutations found in sporadic forms of TS. With these disease mouse models, we are investigating how circuit development and function in the brain are perturbed by the human mutations using a combination of mouse genetics, circuit labeling techniques, optogenetics, electrophysiology, and mouse behavior. Additionally, the mouse models will provide powerful tools for drug screening approaches that can inform complementary studies with human iPSC lines.