Uncovering rules for circuit development during visual system competition

High-speed stimulus trains are used to count the number of vesicles at synapses.

We are also investigating synaptic competition and circuit wiring in the developing mouse visual system. This project is conducted as a joint project between Erik Ullian and Grae Davis' laboratories, combining tools and expertise from both groups to study circuits at a molecular and functional level. We use a combination of genetic, optical and electrophysiological techniques to perturb and study cells which are in competition for synaptic territory in the visual thalamus. Our aim is to uncover the rules governing the wiring of this synapse, in the hopes that these rules will generalize to other brain regions where inputs must compete for their proper postsynaptic targets.

Studying synaptic alterations from iPSC-derived astrocytes

One of the projects in our lab is also utilizing human pluripotent stem cells (hPSCs) to investigate the functional properties of neural cells (neurons, oligodendrocytes, and astrocytes) in normal and diseased states. Currently we have generated induced hPSCs (iPSCs) from patients with genetic-based neurodevelopmental and autism spectrum disorders. We are conducting functional assays to determine whether the derived neural cells exhibit synaptic alterations and to discover the underlying mechanisms causing these effects.