Ion Channel Trafficking at the Axon Initial Segment and Neural Excitability

2015 Seed Grant
Michael Hoppa, Ph.D.
Dartmouth College

Over 65 million people worldwide have epilepsy and suffer from debilitating seizures. Seizures result from clusters of neurons in a circuit to fire synchronously as the result of a lowered excitability threshold. Although the susceptibility for becoming epileptic increases with age, we have little understanding about why this threshold for electrical activity weakens to a pathological state. The axon initial segment is a master integrator switch in the neuron that initiates firing and harbors many unique proteins associated with epilepsy making it a prime area for research. We have devised several quantitative optogenetic approaches to specifically measure initial segment function in the context of neuronal plasticity and epileptogenesis. Under this experimental regime we will gain an understanding of a critical piece of novel cellular physiology that could uncover new targets for therapeutic approaches to combat and prevent epilepsy.

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…