School of Medicine
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Associate Professor of Molecular and Cellular Physiology
Current Research and Scholarly InterestsMolecular mechanisms of chloride channels & transporters studied by integration of structural and electrophysiological methods.
Lucy Erin O'Brien
Assistant Professor of Molecular and Cellular Physiology
Current Research and Scholarly InterestsMany adult organs tune their functional capacity to variable levels of physiologic demand. Adaptive organ resizing breaks the allometry of the body plan that was established during development, suggesting that it occurs through different mechanisms. Emerging evidence points to stem cells as key players in these mechanisms. We use the Drosophila midgut, a stem-cell based organ analogous to the vertebrate small intestine, as a simple model to uncover the rules that govern adaptive remodeling.
Richard J. Reimer, MD
Associate Professor of Neurology and, by courtesy, of Molecular and Cellular Physiology at the Palo Alto Veterans Administration Health Care System
Current Research and Scholarly InterestsReimer Lab interests
A primary interest of our lab is to understand how nerve cells make and recycle neurotransmitters, the small molecules that they use to communicate with each other. In better defining these processes we hope to achieve our long-term goal of identifying novel sites for treatment of diseases such as epilepsy and Parkinson Disease. In our studies on neurotransmitter metabolism we have focused our efforts on transporters, a functional class of proteins that move neurotransmitters and other small molecules across membranes in cells. Transporters have many characteristics that make them excellent pharmacological targets, and not surprisingly some of the most effective treatments for neuropsychiatric disorders are directed at transporters. We are specifically focusing on two groups of transporters vesicular neurotransmitter transporters that package neurotransmitters into vesicles for release, and glutamine transporters that shuttle glutamine, a precursor for two major neurotransmitters glutamate and GABA, to neurons from glia, the supporting cells that surround them. We are pursuing these goals through molecular and biochemical studies, and, in collaboration with the Huguenard and Prince labs, through physiological and biosensor based imaging studies to better understand how pharmacological targeting of these molecules will influence neurological disorders.
A second interest of our lab is to define mechanism underlying the pathology of lysosomal storage disorders. Lysosomes are membrane bound acidic intracellular organelles filled with hydrolytic enzymes that normally function as recycling centers within cells by breaking down damaged cellular macromolecules. Several degenerative diseases designated as lysosomal storage disorders (LSDs) are associated with the accumulation of material within lysosomes. Tay-Sachs disease, Neimann-Pick disease and Gaucher disease are some of the more common LSDs. For reasons that remain incompletely understood, these diseases often affect the nervous system out of proportion to other organs. As a model for LSDs we are studying the lysosomal free sialic acid storage disorders. These diseases are the result of a defect in transport of sialic acid across lysosomal membranes and are associated with mutations in the gene encoding the sialic acid transporter sialin. We are using molecular, genetic and biochemical approaches to better define the normal function of sialin and to determine how loss of sialin function leads to neurodevelopmental defects and neurodegeneration associated with the lysosomal free sialic acid storage disorders.
Professor of Molecular and Cellular Physiology, of Structural Biology and of Photon Science
BioThe Skiniotis laboratory seeks to resolve structural and mechanistic questions underlying biological processes that are central to cellular physiology. Our investigations employ primarily cryo-electron microscopy (cryoEM) and 3D reconstruction techniques complemented by biochemistry, biophysics and simulation methods to obtain a dynamic view into the macromolecular complexes carrying out these processes. The main theme in the lab is the structural biology of cell surface receptors that mediate intracellular signaling and communication. Our current main focus is the exploration of the mechanisms responsible for transmembrane signal instigation in cytokine receptors and G protein coupled receptor (GPCR) complexes.
Stephen J Smith
Professor of Molecular and Cellular Physiology, Emeritus
Current Research and Scholarly InterestsResearch in the Smith Laboratory addresses basic mechanisms and and disorders of brain function. Present efforts are focused on the development and application of new proteomic imaging methods to explore the circuit and molecular architectures of memory storage and retrieval in cerebral cortex.
Avram Goldstein Professor in the School of Medicine and Professor, by courtesy, of Neurology and of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences
Current Research and Scholarly InterestsInformation transfer at synapses mediates information processing in brain, and is impaired in many brain diseases. Thomas Südhof is interested in how synapses are formed, how presynaptic terminals release neurotransmitters at synapses, and how synapses become dysfunctional in diseases such as autism or Alzheimer's disease. To address these questions, Südhof's laboratory employs approaches ranging from biophysical studies to the electrophysiological and behavioral analyses of mutant mice.
George D. Smith Professor, Emeritus
Current Research and Scholarly InterestsWe study synaptic communication between brain cells with the goal of understanding neuronal computations and memory mechanisms. Main areas of focus include: presynaptic calcium channels, mechanisms of vesicular fusion and recycling. Modulation of synaptic strength through changes in postsynaptic receptors and dendritic morphology. Signaling that links synaptic activity to nuclear transcription and local protein translation. Techniques include imaging, electrophysiology, molecular biology.
William M. Hume Professor in the School of Medicine, Professor of Structural Biology, of Molecular and Cellular Physiology and of Photon Science
Current Research and Scholarly InterestsOur laboratory studies molecular interactions that underlie the establishment and maintenance of cell and tissue structure. Our specific areas of interest are the architecture and dynamics of intercellular adhesion junctions, the molecular basis of cell polarity, and the Wnt signaling pathway. We also have a long-standing interest in carbohydrate-based cellular recognition and adhesion.