Current Research Projects:
The mutations in genes encoding proteins that regulate cellular processes for normal synaptic function and plasticity are known to cause several human brain disorders but the mechanisms how these proteins control the neuronal circuitry that lead to normal neuronal plasticity are still poorly understood. The work in our lab identifies the molecular mechanisms affecting neuronal function and plasticity in rodent models of neuropsychiatric disorders, including autism, intellectual disability, and addiction behavior. Our laboratory efforts combine electrophysiology, molecular biology, biochemistry, pharmacology, neuronal morphology, and behavioral characterization to understand the underlying pathophysiology in the long-term changes in synaptic strength relevant to neuropsychiatric disorders, and translate basic neurobiology findings into effective treatments.
A major line of investigation in the lab focuses on understanding the mechanisms by which cytoplasmic FMRP interacting protein 1 (Cyfip1) regulates synapse function and plasticity in developing neural circuits, and how the changes in Cyfip1 levels lead to several neuropsychiatric brain disorders. We have identified the role for Cyfip1 actions in developmentally regulated switch from pre- to postsynaptic phenotypes.
Our research is supported through grants from foundations and the National Institute of Mental Health.