My lab uses state of the art recording and manipulation techniques to examine how circuits control behavior and how abnormal circuit processing can lead to neurological diseases such as epilepsy and autism. Our primary goal is to find causal circuit mechanisms that lead to seizures and cognitive deficits in epilepsy and determine how they can be suppressed with novel interventions. One exciting possibility for treating epilepsy is transplantation of interneuron precursors from the medial ganglionic eminence (MGE), which can rescue seizures and spatial memory deficits in chronically epileptic mice, yet the mechanisms remain unknown. Therefore, a primary focus of my lab is to understand the network changes induced by transplantation that suppress seizures and cognitive deficits in epileptic mice. In addition, we use a similar approach to study genetic models of autism. Our goal is to find a convergent circuit mechanism linking various genetic risk factors to social deficits in mice.
We specialize in recording neural activity during active behavior using in vivo calcium imaging with miniature microscopes or in vivo electrophysiology with silicon probes or juxtacellular recordings. We combine these recordings with optogenetics, chemogenetics, pharmacology, immunohistochemistry, and other techniques.
My lab is also developing new tools to study abnormal circuits, including advancing miniature microscope technology, using closed-loop feedback engineered to control abnormal circuit processing, and developing new pharmacological treatments for neurological disorders.
Cognitive Deficits Associated with Temporal Lobe Epilepsy
Epilepsy is a debilitating disorder that affects over 3 million Americans, with 30% of patients unresponsive to anti-epileptic drugs and often resorting to large resections of the brain. Therefore, it is critical to develop new therapeutic interventions to suppress seizures and cognitive deficits in epilepsy. My lab uses state of the art recording and manipulation techniques to examine how abnormal circuit processing leads to seizures and cognitive deficits in epilepsy and to understand how seizures and cognitive deficits can be suppressed with novel interventions. We use in vivo calcium imaging with miniature microscopes as well as in vivo electrophysiology with silicon probes to examine how the epileptic brain is altered in mice.
Mechanisms of seizure and cognitive rescue using interneuron precursor transplantation
Stem cell transplantations offer a unique opportunity to treat the underlying cause of epilepsy by replacing the interneurons lost during epileptogenesis. Transplantation of embryonic interneuron precursors from the medial ganglionic eminence (MGE) into the hippocampus of epileptic mice dramatically reduces seizures and rescues performance on the Morris water maze spatial memory task. These transplanted interneurons integrate and form mature, functional connections, but there is significant debate about how they control seizures and cognitive deficits. My lab investigates the mechanisms of seizure and cognitive rescue by examining how transplanted interneurons reshape hippocampal circuits using both in vivo electrophysiology and calcium imaging.
Open source miniature microscopes
Miniscope.org is an online open-source platform for developing and using miniature microscopes primarily used for calcium imaging in small rodents. As a primary developer and contributor to this effort, my lab is continuing to develop new innovations of this technology and sharing them with the neuroscience community.
We do our best to follow these principles in our science:
- Do GREAT science!
Great science is the only science worth doing. It doesn’t have to be flashy, but it should be compelling, thorough, and robust. My lab uses molecular, cellular, systems, and behavioral experiments to answer difficult questions. We will use the best tools available to answer these questions, and if it isn’t available yet, we will develop it.
- Tackle important questions that IMPACT the scientific and patient community
Our research should make a lasting impact. We will tackle big problems that have implications for a broad range of neuroscience. We will develop tools for use among the scientific community and will share openly with everyone. We will always strive to find translational applications of our research that will improve treatment options for patients.
- Together everyone achieves more.
We believe in open team science. That means working together within and across labs to reach our goals. That means reaching out for help to learn new techniques, and also helping others. We collaborate widely within the lab and help other labs as much as we can. We openly share our ideas and data because that is the best way to move science forward.
Meet the Team
We are actively recruiting for several positions in our lab. We are looking for people who share our passion for science, work hard to achieve their goals, and have fun working in a challenging but highly rewarding environment.
Postdocs should come into my lab ready to test a novel idea in new and innovative ways. We will work together to build an original research program that has potential for high impact within the scientific field. Postdocs should strive to be thought leaders in their field and highly engaged with the scientific community through conferences, lectures, workshops, and peer review.
Grad students should come into my lab with a passion for science and a drive to succeed. We will work together to form a dissertation project around our mutual interests. You will leave my lab capable of performing every aspect of innovative research, have a deep understanding of your field, be actively engaged in the scientific community, and be prepared for your next step.
Come learn cutting-edge techniques before you apply for grad school. By the time you leave my lab you will be proficient in calcium imaging, electrophysiology, and behavior. You will run independent experiments and be involved in every aspect of the research from experimental design to publication. These skills will be the foundation of your science career and will put you on a path to success. 2 year commitment is preferred (and generally better for your career). NOTE: We currently only have volunteer positions available.
Undergraduate Research Assistants
Come gain valuable lab experience and make a real impact by assisting our lab with experiments. Undergraduates are highly integrated into our research program and perform behavioral testing, aseptic surgery, animal care, data analysis, and everything else we do in the lab! No experience is needed as we will train you to do everything. It’s a fantastic opportunity to gain real research experience for anyone interested in graduate or medical school.
Mentorship is the cornerstone of academia and I will do my very best to put you in a position to fulfill your goals. Regardless of your career path, it is absolutely essential that your goals and the goals of the lab are aligned so that everyone can be moving forward. Each trainee will have an individual training plan that will lay out the expectations and goals for you time in the lab. For some trainees that may lead to a focus on training in computational and analytic techniques, while for others it may be a greater emphasis on experimental design or technical expertise. Whatever your goals are, I will regularly make sure you are on track to attain them.
Science is hard. It can be filled with big joys and big disappointments, and maintaining mental health is absolutely critical to success. Your mental health should always be a priority and our lab policies will reflect that. All lab members are expected to maintain an open dialogue about how we can all best support each other as a lab.