All of our behaviors, both simple and complex, are determined by the function of synapses between neurons in our central nervous system. Thus, an understanding of behavior requires knowledge of how synapses are made and how synapses function. Research conducted in the Molecular Neurobiology Program is aimed at understanding the mechanisms that lead to the generation of neural cells and their targets as well as the mechanisms that allow axons to project to their targets, form synapses and signal to one another.
These studies take advantage of invertebrates, such as Drosophila and C. elegans, that are amenable to genetic analysis and that facilitate the identification of genes required for cell fate determination and for axon guidance. Several groups use mice and mammalian cells grown in cell culture to study the complex inductive interactions between presynaptic and postsynaptic cells required for neural differentiation and synapse formation.
Dolly Chan, Katherine Moore