Faculty

Barbara Ehrlich My laboratory is interested in how cells regulate their intracellular calcium concentration. Cells use changes in calcium as a trigger for many cellular events, including neurotransmission, contraction, and cell growth. We have focused on one aspect of this process, the release of calcium from intracellular stores using calcium imaging combined with electrophysiological, biochemical, and molecular techniques. We hypothesize that abnormalities in intracellular calcium channel function lead to altered intracellular calcium homeostasis. We hope that our studies will identify the changes and will lead to the discovery of suitable treatment regimens. 
James Howe We study glutamate-gated ion channels, receptors that mediate the vast majority of excitatory transmission in the mammalian central nervous system. We primarily use patch-clamp electrophysiology, including single-channel recording, to determine the molecular mechanisms that control the kinetic properties of the receptors. Our main interest is in how these properties shape synaptic transmission.
Leonard Kaczmarek Our laboratory investigates how the properties of neurons become modified so as to produce prolonged changes in the behavior of an animal or human. In the systems that have been investigated so far, such changes have been found to be associated with long-lasting alterations in the intrinsic electrical properties of the neurons. To understand the mechanisms underlying this, we have isolated the genes for some of the ion channels that determine the way that a neuron responds to its synaptic inputs. We have investigated the regulation of the ion channel proteins by protein kinases and changes in patterns of gene expression that control neuronal excitability over periods of many hours or days. Among the systems of neurons that we have use are neurons of the central auditory system, where the properties of potassium ion channels determine the way that a neuron responds to a sound stimulus.
Angus Nairn Trained as a protein biochemist, Dr. Nairn has studied the general area of signal transduction in the central nervous system, elucidating many of the signaling pathways that mediate the effects of dopamine in neurons. Dr. Nairn has extensive experience in the study of the enzymology, protein chemistry, and molecular biology of signal transduction, particularly with respect to the role of protein phosphorylation in the nervous system. Dr. Nairn has also carried out detailed studies of the structure and function of many protein kinases and protein phosphatases that play critical roles in neuronal function. Recent studies by Dr. Nairn and his colleagues have focused on identifying long-term adaptive changes in signal transduction processes that are involved in mediating the actions of psychomotor stimulants, and other drugs of abuse. Dr. Nairn has established, together with Ken Williams, the Yale/NIDA Neuroproteomics Center, a NIDA-funded center that supports the work of investigators at Yale University and other institutions who use proteomic approaches to study the regulation of signaling mechanisms in neurons.
Marina Picciotto The Picciotto lab focuses on defining the molecular mechanisms underlying behaviors related to psychiatric illness, with a special emphasis on the role of nicotinic acetylcholine receptors in addiction, depression and learning. We use knockout, transgenic and shRNA strategies to identify the role of individual receptors and signaling molecules in behaviors related to nicotine and opiate addiction, depression and feeding. We are also interested in the neuropeptide galanin, which we believe normally protects against the development of opiate addiction and that provides links between processes underlying food reward and the link to drug reward.
Gary Rudnick We study the process of neurotransmitter re-uptake by transporters that are targets for antidepressants and psychostimulants. Our research focuses on the mechanism of transport and its regulation by drugs and signaling pathways.
Stephen G. Waxman, MD, PhD My laboratory focuses on molecular mechanisms of neurological disease.  He and his laboratory team use a multidisciplinary approach (molecular genetics, molecular and cell biology, electrophysiology, pharmacology, in vitro and in vivo models) to study the roles of Na channels and associated molecules in normal and injured cells within the nervous system.  Disease targets include neuropathic and inflammatory pain (what are the molecular drivers, and can they be selectively blocked?), multiple sclerosis (how do remissions occur, and can we induce remissions?) and spinal cord injury (can we restore function after injury to the spinal cord?).