Neuroscience Research

Tallie Z. Baram, MD, PhD
Professor, Pediatrics, Anatomy & Neurobiology

- Reward circuitry and its modulation by early life experience
- Interaction of stress and reward circuits ...
- Molecularly defined pathways and their specific contribution to network function
- Optogenetics, chemogenetics
- Sex differences in the above

Kevin Beier, PhD
Assistant Professor, Physiology & Biophysics

We are interested in elucidating the molecular and circuit basis of behavioral adaptation. We aim to understand both how network modules are recruited at different time points in experience-dependent learning and how different nodes in these ... networks contribute to learning, as well as identifying the molecular and circuit factors that underlie susceptibility to behavioral maladaptations such as drug addiction and depression.

Xiaoning Bi, MD, PhD
Professor, Basic Medical Sciences, Western University of Health Sciences

Research in the Bi laboratory focuses on understanding the molecular and cellular basis of neurological disorders, including genetic developmental disorders and age-related neurodegenerative diseases.

Emiliana Borrelli, PhD
Professor, Microbiology & Molecular Genetics

Research in the Borrelli’s laboratory focuses on the dopaminergic system and in particular on the dopamine D2 receptor (D2R) one of the major receptor of the system. The D2 receptor by two isoforms generated by alternatively splice of the ... same gene. We study the implication of these receptors in neurological and neuropsychiatric disorders using mouse models carrying either the constitutive knockout of D2R or D2R cell-specific knockouts. These animals allowed the study of D2R as a whole or of each specific isoform and in specific neuronal types. These mice have been critical to analyze the specific function of D2R in vivo in substance use disorders. Studies in my laboratory are also analyzing complex neuronal circuits that control striatal responses affecting motor behavior and reward to food and addictive substances. In addition, we are elucidating mechanisms that underlie dyskinesia in response to the long-term L-DOPA therapy of Parkinson’s disease or as well as dopamine-related psychiatric disorders such as schizophrenia and other psychotic disorders.

Lulu Y Chen, PhD

Assistant Professor, Anatomy & Neurobiology

We aim to identify the key molecules and their signaling cascades involved in synapse formation and functions in learning and memory and their deficits in various disease conditions.

Elizabeth Chrastil, PhD

Assistant Professor, Neurobiology & Behavior

We study spatial navigation and the neural circuits that support navigation, learning, and memory in humans.

Carl Cotman, PhD
Professor, Neurology

The research of the Cotman laboratory is aimed toward understanding the mechanisms causing neuronal degeneration in Alzheimer’s disease (AD) and the development of interventions to promote successful aging.

Javier Diaz Alonso, PhD
Assistant Professor, Anatomy and Neurobiology

Our research focuses on understanding how the glutamatergic and endocannabinoid systems are organized dynamically at CNS synapses to enable synaptic plasticity and a wide array of cognitive and behavioral functions. We strive to identify ... the pathophysiological mechanisms whereby the disruption of synaptic organization can lead to some CNS pathologies.

Christie Fowler, PhD
Associate Professor, Neurobiology & Behavior

The Fowler lab is focused on defining the genetic, epigenetic and neurobiological mechanisms underlying drug addiction, with a focus on nicotine and cannabis. Our research employs multiple cutting edge approaches to reveal the function of ... brain circuits, molecular and extracellular mechanisms in processes underlying the addiction trajectory. Through these efforts, we hope to ascertain novel targets to provide a foundation for the development of more efficacious therapeutics to treat addiction.

Zhi-Ling Guo, MD, PhD
Project Scientist, Susan-Samueli Integrative Health Institute and Department of Medicine

I have focused my research on neural control of cardiovascular responses for many years with a strong track record. Currently, I have engaged in the study on neural mechanisms by which peripheral nerve stimulation (including ... cardiovascular responses, using anatomical, biochemical, physiological, electrophysiological, pharmacological, and molecular approaches. I am interested in the development of novel research proposals to investigate further mechanisms underlying the neural control of the cardiovascular system.

Todd Holmes, PhD
Professor and Vice Chair, Physiology and Biophysics

My laboratory has developed pioneering approaches for understanding neural circuits and whole animal behavior. We focus on unraveling the functional operations of neurons in vivo with the goal of understanding integrative neural function from ... molecules to behavior. Recently, we have discovered novel phototransduction mechanisms that occur directly in neurons that rapidly modulate electrical excitability. Other recent projects include modeling human neurodegenerative diseases using Drosophila as a model system.

Greg Horwitz, PhD
Professor, Physiology and Biophysics, University of Washington

Our primary research interests are the neural mechanisms of vision and visually guided behavior. We are particularly interested in the circuitry of the early visual pathways that mediate the perception of color and luminance.

Kei Igarashi, PhD
Assistant Professor, Anatomy & Neurobiology

The Kei lgarashi laboratory at UC lrvine investigates:
- How our neuronal circuits enable associative memory in healthy brain? ...
- How these brain circuits become impaired in Alzheimer's disease? Can we restore impaired circuits?
To solve these problems. we are targetinq the entorhinal-hippocampal circuits. a core brain circuit for memory usinq optogenetic-assisted in vivo multi-unit spike and LFP recordings and olfactory-cued memorg behavior tasks.

Masashi Kitazawa, PhD
Assistant Professor, Medicine

My research centers on understanding the molecular pathogenesis of Alzheimer's disease (AD) and the impact of neuroinflammation elicited endogenously by disruption of physiological immune responses by aging, genetics or ... intrinsic/extrinsic risk factors. Through understanding the key cellular mechanisms, one of my goals is to develop better animal models that recapitulate a broad spectrum of human AD conditions including altered neuronal circuit network and cognitive decline for better pre-clinical models.

Jeff Krichmar, PhD
Professor, Cognitive Sciences

Dr. Krichmar's research interests include neurorobotics, embodied cognition, biologically plausible models of learning and memory, and the effect of neural architecture on neural function.

Albert La Spada, MD, PhD
Professor, Pathology, Laboratory Medicine & Neurology

Dr. La Spada's research is focused upon neurodegenerative disease, and he is seeking the molecular events that underlie neurodegeneration and neuron cell death in spinal & bulbar muscular atrophy (SBMA), spinocerebellar ataxia type 7 ... (SCA7), Huntington’s Disease, ALS, and Parkinson’s disease. He and his team have uncovered evidence for transcription dysregulation, perturbed bioenergetics, and altered protein quality control as contributing factors to neuron dysfunction. By reproducing molecular pathology in mice and in neurons derived from human patient stem cells, Dr. La Spada has begun to develop therapies to treat these disorders intended to boost the function of pathways of CNS homeostasis that decline with aging

Gyorgy Lur, PhD
Assistant Professor, Neurobiology & Behavior

The primary goal of my research is to understand how neurons summate synaptic input from various modalities and how changes in the cells’ neurochemical environment regulate this interaction. I am particularly interested in how sensory ... feed-forward and cognitive feed-back pathways integrate to facilitate perceptual decision making and how the stress induced degradation of this interaction affects cognitive performance.

Stephen V. Mahler, PhD
Assistant Professor, Neurobiology & Behavior

We seek to understand the brain circuits underlying motivated behavior, and how these change in addiction and other psychiatric disorders.

Douglas Nitz, PhD
Professor and Chair, UCSD Department of Cognitive Science

My research program studies the systems neuroscience of spatial cognition using freely behaving animal recordings and behavioral tasks combined with use of molecular tools for identification and manipulataion of specific neural circuits

Andre Obenaus, PhD
Professor, Pediatrics

- Neuroimaging (magnetic resonance imaging, MRI) of disease
- Circuit mapping using diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) in health and in pathophysiology ...
- Vascular consequences of brain pathology and restoration of vascular networks
- Healthy aging and Alzheimer’s Disease

Sean Ostlund, PhD
Associate Professor, Anesthesiology & Perioperative Care

We study the neural underpinnings of motivated behavior and decision making in rodents. Our broad long-term goal is to advance understanding of the neurobehavioral processes that mediate adaptive reward-seeking behavior under normal ... conditions and how these processes go awry to produce pathological forms of reward seeking, such as in drug addiction. We address these questions by combining sophisticated behavioral assays with a variety of neuroscience techniques to measure (microdialysis and fast-scan cyclic voltammetry) and manipulate (opto- and chemogenetics) neural circuit function.

Lara Rangel, PhD
Assistant Professor, Cognitive Science, UCSD

Our projects combine computational and statistical models with in vivo electrophysiology to 1) identify elements within neural networks that give rise to rhythmically identifiable processing states and 2) test the impact of rhythmic coordination ... upon successful network engagement in rodent models. In addition, we record neural signals across microscopic, mesoscopic, and macroscopic scales in order to characterize the cellular and systems level processes that give rise to the electroencephalogram (EEG) signal and develop tools for translating the EEG signal into underlying local network dynamics.

Bradley Voytek, PhD
Associate Professor, Cognitive Science and Halıcıoğlu Data Science Institute, UCSD

Dr. Voytek's lab combines large-scale data science and machine learning to study how brain regions communicate with one another, and how that communication changes with development, aging, and disease.

Marcelo Wood, PhD
Professor & Chair, Neurobiology & Behavior

The research in my lab is focused on understanding the molecular mechanisms underlying learning and memory processes as well as drug-seeking behavior. I am particularly interested in examining the role of chromatin modifying enzymes in ... regulating transcription required for long-lasting types of memory and drug-seeking behavior. My lab uses a combined molecular, genetic, pharmacological and behavioral approach to examine the role of histone acetyltransferase (HAT) and histone deacetylase (HDAC) enzymes. Histone acetylation is one major epigenetic mechanism of gene regulation. We are also examining the role of a neuron-specific nucleosome remodeling complex (nBAF) in regulating gene expression required for memory processes that has been implicated in human intellectual disability disorders. Nucleosome remodeling represents another major epigenetic mechanism. The overall hypothesis driving our research is that epigenetic mechanisms modulate neuronal function in dynamic yet potentially very stable ways that underlie long-term changes in behavior related to memory processes and drug-seeking behavior. In addition, my lab also examines the role of these epigenetic gene regulation mechanisms in the context of the aging brain, ameliorating age-dependent cognitive decline, as well as in mouse models of neurodegenerative disease.

Xiangmin Xu, PhD
Professor, Anatomy and Neurobiology

Our research program focuses on neural circuit mechanisms that underlie visual perception, learning and memory, and cognition.  Our newest direction is to apply our neural circuit findings towards treating Alzheimer’s disease.

Hu Zhao, DDS, PhD
Assistant Professor, College of Dentistry, Texas AM

Tissue clearing technique is becoming popular in recent years on studying brain and other neural tissue. By turning tissue transparent, intact organs can be directly visualized with a confocal microscope and 3-D images can be acquired without ... sectioning. Our lab has developed a new tissue clearing technique named PEG Associated Solvent System (PEGASOS). The PEGASOS method efficiently clears both hard and soft tissue to high transparency and protects endogenous fluorescence with no loss. PEGASOS is also the only current clearing method capable of clearing bones and teeth into fully transparency. Skull bone, teeth and femur can be turned into nearly invisible without losing GFP fluorescence. We were able to perform 3-D imaging for intact skull, mandible, femur or teeth with a confocal, 2-photon or light sheet microscope. Vasculature, nerves or fluorescence labelled cells deep inside of the organs could be directly visualized without sectioning. We aim to utilize tissue clearing based deep imaging to explore neural organization within brain, spinal cord and other body parts.