Faculty and Research Interests
Faculty with Primary Appointments in Neuroscience
The long-term goals of the Takahashi Laboratory are to understand the molecular and genetic basis of circadian rhythms in mammals and to use forward genetic approaches in the mouse as a tool for gene discovery for complex behavior.
The Chahrour lab studies the molecular mechanisms underlying autism spectrum disorders (ASDs) by using a combination of human genetics, genomics, and animal modeling. They are identifying novel genes mutated in disease by next generation sequencing in families affected with ASDs, and are investigating the role of these genes in neuronal function using mouse models.
The Green Laboratory studies the molecular mechanisms by which the circadian clock controls rhythmic processes within the cell, with a particular focus on post-transcriptional regulatory mechanisms.
Researchers in the Gibson Laboratory use electrophysiological methods to study neocortical circuit development and plasticity. Group members focus on how circuits are altered in the mouse model of fragile X Syndrome.
The Hibbs Laboratory studies the mechanisms of ligand-gated ion channel function at the atomic scale, using biochemistry, electrophysiology, and X-ray crystallography.
The Henkemeyer Laboratory is focused on understanding cell-cell signaling mechanisms that help wire the brain and build neural circuits during development. Their research centers on a group of highly conserved membrane tethered ligand-receptor molecules, known as Ephrin and Eph, which transduce bidirectional cell-cell signals that can affect neuron migration, axon pathfinding, and synapse formation and plasticity.
The Huber Laboratory studies mechanisms of synaptic plasticity that occur during development and in the adult. We focus on the role of local translation in synaptic plasticity, and how genes linked with human mental disorders affect these processes. We use a combination of electrophysiology, imaging and biochemistry.
The Johnson Lab focuses on the function of neural bHLH transcription factors to probe molecular mechanisms that control the balance of neural progenitor cell maintenance and differentiation, and the generation of neuronal diversity, particularly in the spinal cord. Her group also uses those factors to study the generation of neural cancers such as glioblastoma and neuroendocrine lung carcinoma.
Dr. Kavalali studies mechanisms of neurotransmission and synaptic signaling in the central nervous system. His group examines the molecular basis and functional consequences of heterogeneity among synaptic vesicle recycling pathways present within individual synapses.
The Kim Laboratory studies how sensory stimulation can be accurately translated into cellular and behavioral plasticity through genetic and epigenetic mechanisms. We focus on the role of various types of long non-coding RNAs in brain development and function, and neuronal activity-regulated epigenetic mechanisms underlying cognitive diseases.
The Konopka Laboratory uses a combination of functional genomics, animal and human cellular modeling, and evolutionary comparisons. Her group's goal is to identify genes and molecular pathways that enhance cognitive function in the human brain, and whose dysfunction may play a role in disorders such as autism and schizophrenia.
The Krämer Laboratory uses Drosophila genetics to study the pathways that regulate the delivery of cargo from endosomes, phagosomes, and autophagosomes to lysosomes. His group also seeks to understand the role of glia cells in visual neurotransmission.
The Lai Lab studies the molecular and circuit mechanisms that generate pain, thermosensation, touch, and proprioception (the sense of limb and body position). In particular, we are investigating how proprioceptive information is differentially processed in the spinal cord and how that impacts proper motor function in mice. We use a variety of genetic, electrophysiology, and viral tracing techniques, as well as behavioral assays.
The Lin Laboratory uses the vertebrate neuromuscular junction as a model to study synaptic biology. Our current research focuses on determining (1) how signals from the muscle regulate the differentiation of the motor nerve terminals, and (2) the contribution of myogenic activity to the maintenance of the synapses. Our techniques include mouse genetics, electrophysiology, electron microscopy, biochemistry, and molecular biology.
The Meeks Laboratory studies the neural mechanisms underlying pheromone-mediated social and reproductive behaviors in mice. Our research focuses on synaptic interactions between excitatory and inhibitory neurons in the accessory olfactory bulb, and how those interactions sculpt information flowing through this circuit.
Dr. Monteggia studies molecular and synaptic mechanisms underlying neurodevelopmental disorders, as well as mechanisms of antidepressant action in the central nervous system. Her group focuses on the role of epigenetic factors in autism spectrum disorders, and also investigates the molecular basis of novel, fast-acting antidepressants.
The Pfeiffer lab studies the consolidation and recall of memory via large-scale, high-density in vivo recordings of neural activity during free behavior in rodents, focusing on spatial navigation as a specific example of more general memory formation and use.
The Roberts Lab studies the circuit and cellular mechanisms for vocal learning, how the brain encodes long-term memories during social interactions and uses auditory feedback to shape vocal behaviors. We are identifying the neural circuit mechanisms engaged as juvenile songbirds learn to imitate their father’s song using two-photon imaging, optogenetics, and electrophysiological approaches.
The Smith Lab explores the mechanisms mediating volatile pheromone signaling in Drosophila. Image: localization of a lipid flippase required for normal pheromone sensitivity in the dendrites of a subset of olfactory neurons in the antenna.
The Terman Lab explores the cellular, molecular, and biochemical mechanisms underlying cellular process formation, extension, and navigation. We are particularly interested in how axons, the cellular processes of neurons, find their targets and can be encouraged to regrow following injury or disease.
The Volk lab studies the molecular and synaptic mechanisms of memory persistence. They use biochemistry and electrophysiology in combination with animal behavior to understand how memory encoding and use changes across development as well as how sleep facilitates memory persistence.
The Xu Lab aims to delineate brain circuits mediating basic cognitive processes including memory and executive control as well as elucidate neuronal principles operating in these circuits.
The Yamazaki Laboratory studies circadian pacemaker structures that control feeding and locomotor activity rhythms as well as in vivo and environmental factors that influence circadian organization.
The Yu Laboratory studies the molecular and cellular basis of Alzheimer’s and related diseases. We use biophysics, biochemistry, and cell biology to understand the inner workings of the gamma-secretase complex.
Faculty with Secondary Appointments in Neuroscience
The Diamond lab seeks to define fundamental molecular mechanisms that underlie progression of neurodegenerative diseases and thereby devise new therapeutics and diagnostics. They have defined prion mechanisms in vitro, in cells and in mice that appear to govern trans-cellular propagation of pathology for tau, synuclein, and potentially many other proteins that form pathological aggregates
The Ge Laboratory studies the interactions between the brain vasculature and the nervous system: how a brain builds the gliovascular and neurovascular network during development, how this network is damaged during strokes, and how the network is repaired after strokes.
The Greene lab studies the molecular and cellular mechanisms controlling behavioral state, with a focus on sleep homeostasis and function. Towards this end we employ behavioral and electrophysiological phenotyping of sleep/wake states to analyze the genetic, cellular and circuit signaling pathways responsible for their generation and control.
The Herz Lab studies the molecular basis of Alzheimer’s disease and frontotemporal dementia. We specifically investigate how disruption of endosomal trafficking by Apolipoprotein E4 affects the synapse and how progranulin deficiency leads to lysosomal dysfunction, and then apply these insights to drug discovery.
The research goal in the Kitamura Laboratory is to provide a biophysically-based mechanistic understanding of neural circuits, neural processes and memory engrams for learning and memory in the entorhinal-hippocampal circuits of rodent brain under normal and psychotic conditions, by applying cell-type specific in vivo calcium imaging, in vivo electrophysiology, transgenic mice, viral-tracing, and optogenetic manipulation.
The Kourrich Lab investigates the cellular mechanisms through which drugs of abuse lead to changes in neuronal intrinsic excitability and thereby to pathological adaptations in neuronal functions, and finally how these neuroadaptations shape addiction-related behaviors.
The Liu Laboratory probes fundamental principles behind cellular and functional diversity in the developing hypothalamus. We perform cell-type specific transcriptomic analyses to identify unique transcriptional regulators in subpopulation of hypothalamic neurons. We then develop mouse genetic tools to target these factors, and study their roles in hypothalamic development as well as in hypothalamus-mediated innate behaviors.
The Liu Laboratory hopes to discover the molecular circuits of sleep and fear by combining mouse forward genetic screening, classical biochemistry, cutting-edge mass spectrometry, and neuroscience.
The Madabhushi lab studies how chromatin dynamics and epigenetic mechanisms regulate activity-dependent gene expression programs, and ultimately affect experience-driven adaptations in behavior. Our focus is on understanding how defects in these mechanisms could underlie the development of various neurological disorders and cancer.
The Minassian lab focuses on cures for Lafora disease, a severe pediatric epilepsy, by studying the basic molecular mechanisms and developing possible therapeutics.
The Powell Lab focuses on the mechanisms of cognitive function and cognitive dysfunction in neuropsychiatric disorders such as autism, intellectual disability, and Alzheimer’s disease. The goal is to understand what goes wrong with the brain, identify ways to fix it, and test those therapies in our models. We take a multidisciplinary approach using behavior, electrophysiology, morphology, protein biochemistry, and molecular biology.
The Tsai laboratory studies the molecular and circuit mechanisms underlying cognitive and behavioral disability in neurodevelopmental disorders such as autism, with a primary interest in the contribution of cerebellar dysfunction to neurobehavioral impairment.
Thomas Südhof, M.D., now at Stanford University School of Medicine, is a leader in research on nerve cell interaction and neurotransmitter release during normal and pathological brain function. His work on the machinery regulating vesicle transport in synaptic transmission led to his receiving the 2013 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine. Dr. Südhof spent 25 years at UT Southwestern from 1983 to 2008. He retains his association as Adjunct Faculty in the Department of Neuroscience.