Research Divisions: Brain Research and Integrated Neurophysiology B.R.A.I.N. Platform
Research Interests: Roughly 30 million North Americans suffer some type of learning or memory disorder. Many of these disorders have no cure and few effective treatments. New approaches to the treatment of learning and memory impairments may benefit greatly by building on basic research studying normal memory formation. My research aims are two-fold; 1) to examine the neural substrates of memory and 2) to apply these basic findings to study potential treatments for people with learning and memory disorders, such as Alzheimer's disease and inherited forms of mental retardation.
Keywords: learning, memory, amygdala, genetically modified mice, genes, viral.
The research in my laboratory is dedicated to understanding the neural basis of cognitive function and dysfunction. To unravel the molecular, cellular and circuit processes that underlie learning and memory we employ a multidisciplinary approach including the use of transgenic mice, gene deletion ('knockout') mutants, and 'knock in' mutants which carry a specific point mutation, biochemistry, pharmacology, neuroanatomical lesions and detailed behavioral analysis. The guiding rationale behind this work is the finding that long-term memory (LTM) involves structural re-modeling of synaptic connections and consequently, requires gene expression and de novo protein synthesis. Our lab focuses on the transcription factors that regulate the protein synthesis necessary for LTM formation. The second broad theme of our research examines the pathogenesis of human cognitive disorders. By building on the findings from our basic research theme to the study of cogntive dysfunction in humans, we hope to develop new therepeutic targets and treatment strategies. My research program examines whether disruptions of intracellular pathways linked to transcription factors may contribute to human congitive impairments and whether these transcription factors my ultimately serve as therapeutic targets in the treatments of these disorders. Specifically, my lab will investigate potential treatments for Alzheimer's disease and several inherited forms of mental retardation such as Rubinstein Taybi Syndrome and Coffin-Lowry Syndrome.
Cell and tissue culture: Brain slice, hippocampal cells, neurons.
Procedures: Behavioural tests, Elisa, gene expression analysis, immunohistochemistry, stereotaxic brain surgery, western blot.
Analytical balances, benchtop centrifuge, blotting apparatus, confocal microscope, culture hood, culture incubators, cryostat, digital microscope, dissecting microscope, fluorescence microscope, fresh tissue sectioning systems, gel apparatus, low- and high-speed centrifuge, low and ultralow freezers, microwave oven, stirrer/hot plate, vibratome, water baths.
Within the Department of Physiology
Committee member/officer of national/international scientific organizations
Society for Neuroscience Program Committee
Molecular and Cellular Cognition Society (MCCS) Council
Co-organizer Canadian Association for Neuroscience (CAN) conference (May 2013)
Graduate academic committee, Physiology, U of T
Ad-hoc committee for Ontario Brain Initiative