Leonard Konrad Kaczmarek PhD
Professor of Pharmacology and of Cellular and Molecular Physiology
Neuroscience; Learning and memory; Ion channels
Research in our laboratory is aimed at understanding the nature of the biochemical changes that occur in neurons and that result in prolonged changes in the behavior of an animal or in its ability to detect specific patterns of sensory inputs. It is known that alterations of the intrinsic electrical excitability of specific neurons are the key feature of such events, and that these are caused by the short-term and long-term modulation of ion channels, usually in response to the activation of protein kinases. Our laboratory has cloned the genes for multiple new potassium and calcium channels that are influenced by the activity of either serine/threonine or tyrosine protein kinases. We are using electrophysiological patch clamp techniques, in combination with transgenic and gene knockout approaches to investigate the regulation of these channels in two neuronal systems; neurons in the auditory brainstem of vertebrates and a group of peptigergic neurons of Aplysia that control reproductive behaviors. In response to appropriate stimulation, both of these systems of neurons undergo profound changes in their electrical properties and their ability to secrete their neurotransmitters.