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Assistant Professor

Research Description

We study the cellular and molecular mechanisms of the membrane-associated cytoskeleton in the nervous system in health and disease. We are currently focused on understanding the diverse and multifaceted roles of ankyrins and spectrins on axonal and dendritic development and function. Ankyrins and spectrins collaborate to organize and stabilize specialized membrane-spanning microdomains that include cell adhesion molecules, ion channels, and membrane transporters. In addition, some members of the ankyrin and spectrin families are also facilitators of intracellular transport. Consequently, these proteins play critical roles in neuronal growth, maintenance, axonal guidance and branching, and synaptic function. Unsurprisingly, mutations in ankyrins and spectrins have been associated with autism spectrum disorder, bipolar disorder, epilepsy, schizophrenia, intellectual disability, spinocerebellar ataxia, West syndrome, and other psychiatric, neurodevelopmental, and neurodegenerative disorders. We use rodents, high resolution and live microscopies, behavioral studies, and diverse cellular and biochemical tools to delineate the molecular, cellular, and physiological mechanisms involving the membrane cytoskeleton in normal biology and models of disease.