My laboratory studies synaptic modulation in the hippocampus and cortex of the mammalian brain. Our recent work has focused on the physiologic roles of endogenous cannabinoids and nerve growth factors in various forms of synaptic plasticity that are important for learning and memory. These systems are currently major targets for the development of novel therapeutics for neurologic and neurodegenerative disease.
Another area of interest focuses on the neuronal and synaptic deficits in autism spectrum disorders. In particular, our work is currently focused on Angelman syndrome, Chromosome 15q duplication syndrome, and related neurodevelopmental disorders. These studies use inducible pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) that are derived from human somatic cells and then reprogrammed to pluripotency and differentiated into neurons. This project involves patch clamp recordings, calcium imaging, and immunocytochemical analysis of stem cell-derived neurons grown in culture. In collaboration with the laboratories of Dr. Stormy Chamberlain and Dr. Les Loew, we are interested in comparing the functional and structural properties of synapses and neuronal circuits from patients with autism or Angelman syndrome compared to unaffected controls.
We are part of the Department of Neuroscience and the Graduate Program in Neuroscience at the University of Connecticut School of Medicine. We are also part of the Connecticut Institute for the Brain and Cognitive Sciences.
Our research is supported by grants from the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, National Institute of Mental Health, Autism Speaks, the Angelman Syndrome Foundation, and the Dup15q Alliance.