Autism, epilepsy & schizophrenia

Non-Invasive Optogenetic Engineering of Cortical Dynamics
2013 Seed Grant

Brian Chow, Ph.D.
Department of Bioengineering
University of Pennsylvania

The goal of Dr. Chow’s project is to create the tools and methodology for disrupting cortical excitatory/inhibitory balance via non-invasive optogenetic perturbation. Disrupted E/I balance is thought to play a pathophysiological role in nervous system disorders of high unmet clinical need such as schizophrenia and autism spectrum disorders, epilepsy, among others (Eichler et al, Front. Mol. Neuro. 2008 and references within).  Recent optogenetic studies confirmed that E/I imbalance can lead to social deficit phenotypes in rodents, a phenotype of observed in patients with schizophrenia and autism spectrum disorders (Yizhar et al. Nature, 2011).  Thus, understanding this balance is both critical to treating CNS disorder and tractable for via optogenetic manipulation. By combining the 2-dimensional control of light delivery, with in utero electroporation for layer-specific transgene expression, if successful, Dr. Chow will create the ability to selectively manipulate neurons with 3-dimensional complexity non-invasively in freely behaving animals.

Other Grants

Rebekah C. Evans, Ph.D., Georgetown University
In Vivo and Ex Vivo Dissection of Midbrain Neuron Activity During Exercise
Exercise is important for the health of the body and the mind. Exercise promotes learning and reduces symptoms of brain-related diseases such as Parkinson’s disease and Alzheimer’s disease. However, it…
William J. Giardino, Ph.D. Stanford University
Deciphering the Neuropeptide Circuitry of Emotional Arousal in Narcolepsy
This research project aims to investigate the neural mechanisms of a specific type of brain cell called neuropeptide neurons within a region of the brain’s amygdala network called the bed…
Howard Gritton, Ph.D., University of Illinois
Attention Mechanisms Contributing to Auditory Spatial Processing.
Our world is composed of a rich mixture of sounds. We often process sounds including speech in the presence of many other competing auditory stimuli (e.g., voices in a crowded…
Nora Kory, Ph.D., Harvard University
Elucidating the Fates and Functions of Lactate in the Brain
The human brain requires significant energy to function. Despite accounting for only 2% of our body weight, the brain consumes a substantial 20% of the body’s energy, relying on a…