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. 
Sourav Ghosh  We investigate a signaling pathway that is involved in the recognition and removal of dead cells in the CNS and represents a major homeostatic mechanism that restrains neuroinflammation. Another area of our research relates to understanding the principles of cellular signaling that drives neural polarity during development and regeneration.
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 used 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 the roles of acetylcholine and nicotinic acetylcholine receptors (nAChRs) in the brain, and their effects on behaviors related to psychiatric illness. We use knockout, transgenic and shRNA strategies to identify the role of individual receptors and signaling molecules in neural circuits and behaviors related to learning, food intake, affective behaviors and 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.