What is Neurobiology?
The goal of neurobiology research is to understand how the brain is organized (how nerve cells form and communicate with each other), how the brain functions (how sensations arise and actions are generated), as well as how the brain is affected by disease. Neurobiology is interdisciplinary and researchers turn to multiple fields such as genetics, biochemistry, cell biology and physiology, as well as behavioral and cognitive sciences, to study the brain.
Our research in the area of Neurobiology
The Biochemistry and Molecular Pharmacology (BMP) department is made up of researchers with expertise in many different fields, making it ideal for interdisciplinary neurobiology research. BMP has particular strengths in several areas of neurobiology. We have a concentration of groups developing novel tools for neurobiology research – the Han and Miller groups are developing luminescent nanomaterials and molecules broadly applicable as probes for imaging, modulation and therapy, while the Kobertz group is creating reagents to study and modulate the activity of ion channels.
The BMP department also has a focus on the formation and degeneration of the nervous system with the Sagerström group studying neural development and the Matthews and Xu groups investigating the mechanism underlying neurodegeneration, particularly with respect to ALS (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis) and FTD (frontotemporal dementia). Further, the department has an interest in transport mechanisms in neurons, with the Carruthers group studying glucose transport and the Munson group examining the mechanism of exocytosis and endocytosis.
Our breakthrough discoveries
BMP researchers have made important breakthroughs in many areas. The Han lab developed a wireless tool for non-invasive neuro-modulation, the Miller group synthesized luciferin amides to enable bioluminescence imaging of fatty acid amide hydrolase (FAAH) activity in the brains of live mice, and the Carruthers lab measured and modeled the metabolic response of the human visual cortex to light activation. Dr. Xu and colleagues conceptualized a strategy using gene silencing for ALS therapy and pioneered the use of mouse models to understand ALS mechanisms, while the Sagerström group has discovered several novel genes involved in neurogenesis.