Controlling synaptic function with light

2015 Seed Grant
Matthew Kennedy, Ph.D.
University of Colorado

Synaptic plasticity is thought to be essential for normal cognition and is impaired in numerous neuropsychiatric disorders and diseases, including schizophrenia, autism, and Alzheimer’s. While plasticity defects likely underlie many symptoms of these disorders, little is known about why plasticity is impaired. On a molecular level, plasticity dependent synaptic changes are governed by molecular signaling and trafficking events that occur at synapses. A major difficulty in studying these molecular events is the lack of suitable tools to study processes on fast time scales in localized regions of neurons. Furthermore, there remains an unmet need for tools to acutely, reversibly and locally control these events in vivo. Such tools would help resolve longstanding questions concerning where, when and whether intensely investigated forms of synaptic plasticity, mostly studied in brain slices or dissociated neurons, are relevant for behavior in normal and disease models.

Other Grants

Sarah C. Goetz, Ph.D., Duke University
Uncovering a Novel Role for Primary Cilia in Eph/Ephrin Signaling in Neurons
2022 Seed GrantSarah C. Goetz, Ph.D. Duke University Women’s Council Seed Grant Primary cilia are tiny projections from cells that function like an antenna- they receive and may also send…
Erin M. Gibson, Ph.D., Stanford University
Circadian Regulation of Oligodendroglial Senescence and Metabolomics in Aging
2022 Seed GrantErin M. Gibson, Ph.D.Stanford University The brain consists of two main classes of cells, neurons and glia. Glia make-up more than half of the cells in the brain…
Yvette Fisher, Ph.D., University of California, Berkeley
Dynamic Modulation of Synaptic Plasticity During Spatial Exploration
2022 Seed GrantYvette Fisher, Ph.D.University of California, Berkeley The Virginia (Ginny) & Roger Carlson Seed Grant Cognitive flexibility is critical for appropriately adjusting thoughts and behaviors to meet changing demands…
Byoung Il Bae, Ph.D., University of Connecticut
Unique Vulnerability of Developing Human Cerebral Cortex to Loss of Centrosomal Protein
2022 Seed GrantByoung Il Bae, Ph.D.University of Connecticut Carl & Marilynn Thoma Foundation Seed Grant The cerebral cortex is the largest and outermost part of the human brain. It is…