brain function and dysfunction

We are interested in the brain and how memories are formed, stabilized, and retrieved. We are also interested in the human diseases that affect learning and memory, including Alzheimer’s, schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and ALS.

calyx of Drosophila mushroom bodies
Image of SLC22A expression (green) in the calyx of 
Drosophila mushroom bodies. (Image courtesy of Ron Davis Laboratory)

Our research passion and focus are on brain function and brain dysfunction. More specifically, our ongoing projects and recent discoveries involve the molecular and cellular biology of memory formation, how the brain forgets information once learned, and on developing new therapeutics for the many different diseases that impair normal brain function. These projects span both basic and translational science. Our basic science projects are directed at learning more about how the brain works. Our translational science projects are directed at discovering and developing new therapeutics for the treatment of both neurological and psychiatric disorders. 

Many, but not all, of the basic science projects utilize the fruit fly, Drosophila, to genetically and molecularly dissect processes underlying memory formation. Although we are broadly interested in the mechanisms underlying acquisition, memory stabilization and consolidation, and retrieval; many of our more recent discoveries have led to new and fundamental insights on active forgetting. That is, we have discovered that the brain has intrinsic processes and mechanisms to forget already formed memories. This area of research is completely new to the field of neuroscience. Very little was known prior to our discoveries about how the brain forgets information. There is much yet to be discovered about how the brain forgets. 

Our translational research projects revolve around small molecule screening efforts to identify new drugs for the treatment of neurological and psychiatric disorders. A current focus is on the development of new therapies for neurodegenerative disorders, including Alzheimer’s disease and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. We have a strong interest in mitochondria and how mitochondria become impaired in these diseases. Mitochondria are organelles that provide many different functions for cells to work properly, including being a primary source of energy. Remarkably, mitochondrial impairment occurs in the vast majority of neurological and psychiatric diseases making it a hallmark neuropathology across brain disorders. 

We employ many different laboratory techniques, including genetic, molecular biological, cellular, neuroanatomical, functional imaging, genomic, behavioral, and high throughput screening.

Thank you for visiting. A more complete description of our current research projects can be found under Research Projects.