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Sergiu P. Pasca
Assistant Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences (Sleep Disorder/Sleep Center)
Current Research and Scholarly InterestsA critical challenge in understanding the intricate programs underlying development, assembly and dysfunction of the human brain is the lack of direct access to intact, functioning human brain tissue for detailed investigation by imaging, recording, and stimulation.
Our lab is using pluripotent stem cells derived non-invasively from human individuals to generate in a dish specific regions of the human brain in a functional 3D preparation we have developed. We are using months-to-years long ‘brain-a-dish’ cultures (also known as brain region-specific organoids or spheroids) to understand how neurons find their final position in the brain and how they mature functionally. To investigate how different brain regions talk to each-other in normal and diseased states, we introduced a new approach for in vitro assembly of neural circuits, also known as assembloids.
We employ state-of-the-art stem cell biology, genome engineering, imaging and neuroscience approaches to identify the dynamical processes that go awry in neural cells derived from patients with neuropsychiatric disorders, such as autism or schizophrenia, and what should be therapeutically targeted in these conditions.
Emma Pfeiffer Merner Professor in the Medical Sciences
Current Research and Scholarly InterestsThe major focuses of our research is to understand the molecular basis of inherited Parkinson's Disease (PD) and to elucidate the molecular mechanisms by which proteins and cholesterol are transported between specific membrane compartments. We focus on the LRRK2 kinase that is inappropriately activated in PD and how it phosphorylates Rab GTPases, blocking the formation of primary cilia in culture and specific regions of the brain.
Professor of Pediatrics (Stem Cell Transplantation)
Current Research and Scholarly InterestsGenome Editing and Population Dynamics for Gene Therapy and Cancer Research
Assistant Professor of Radiation Oncology (Radiation Physics)
Current Research and Scholarly InterestsThe Physical Oncology Lab is interested in making a lasting impact on translational cancer research by building novel physical tools and methods.