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NameEmailPhD ProgramResearch InterestPublications
Ting, Jenny
WEBSITE
EMAIL
PUBLICATIONS

PHD PROGRAM
Cell Biology & Physiology, Genetics & Molecular Biology, Microbiology & Immunology, Neuroscience

RESEARCH INTEREST
Cancer Biology, Cell Biology, Genetics, Immunology, Molecular Biology

Topics include gene discovery, genomics/proteomics, gene transcription, signal transduction, molecular immunology.  Disease relevant issues include infectious diseases, autoimmune and demyelinating disorders, cancer chemotherapy, gene linkage.

Tropsha, Alexander
WEBSITE
EMAIL
PUBLICATIONS

PHD PROGRAM
Bioinformatics & Computational Biology, Neuroscience, Pharmaceutical Sciences, Toxicology

RESEARCH INTEREST
Bioinformatics, Computational Biology, Molecular Medicine, Structural Biology, Toxicology

The major area of our research is Biomolecular Informatics, which implies understanding relationships between molecular structures (organic or macromolecular) and their properties (activity or function). We are interested in building validated and predictive quantitative models that relate molecular structure and its biological function using statistical and machine learning approaches. We exploit these models to make verifiable predictions about putative function of untested molecules.

Weiss, Ellen
WEBSITE
EMAIL
PUBLICATIONS

PHD PROGRAM
Cell Biology & Physiology, Genetics & Molecular Biology, Neuroscience

RESEARCH INTEREST
Biochemistry, Cell Biology, Cell Signaling, Molecular Biology, Neurobiology

The vertebrate retina is an extension of the central nervous system that controls visual signaling and circadian rhythm.  Our laboratory is interested in how the retina adapts to changing light intensities in the natural environment.  We are presently studying the regulation of 2 G protein-coupled receptor kinases, GRK1 and GRK7, that participate in signal termination in the light-detecting cells of the retina, the rods and cones.  Signal termination helps these cells recover from light exposure and adapt to continually changing light intensities.  Recently, we determined that GRK1 and GRK7 are phosphorylated by cAMP-dependent protein kinase (PKA).  Since cAMP levels are regulated by light in the retina, phosphorylation by PKA may be important in recovery and adaptation.  Biochemical and molecular approaches are used in 2 model organisms, mouse and zebrafish, to address the role of PKA in retina function. Keywords:  cAMP, cone, G protein-coupled receptor, GPCR, GRK, kinase, neurobiology, opsin, PKA, retina, rhodopsin rod, second messenger, signal transduction, vision.

Zylka, Mark J.
WEBSITE
EMAIL
PUBLICATIONS

PHD PROGRAM
Bioinformatics & Computational Biology, Cell Biology & Physiology, Neuroscience

RESEARCH INTEREST
Cell Biology, Genetics, Genomics, Molecular Biology, Neurobiology, Physiology

Our research is focused on two general areas:  1. Autism and 2. Pain.  Our autism research is focused on topoisomerases and other transcriptional regulators that were recently linked to autism.  We use genome-wide approaches to better understand how these transcriptional regulators affect gene expression in developing and adult neurons (such as RNA-seq, ChIP-seq, Crispr/Cas9 for knocking out genes).  We also assess how synaptic function is affected, using calcium imaging and electrophysiology.   In addition, we are performing a large RNA-seq screen to identify chemicals and drugs that increase risk for autism.   /  / Our pain research is focused on lipid kinases that regulate pain signaling and sensitization.  This includes work with cultured dorsal root ganglia (DRG) neurons, molecular biology and behavioral models of chronic pain.  We also are working on drug discovery projects, with an eye towards developing new therapeutics for chronic pain.

Cohen, Todd
WEBSITE
EMAIL
PUBLICATIONS

PHD PROGRAM
Cell Biology & Physiology, Neuroscience

RESEARCH INTEREST
Biochemistry, Cell Biology, Drug Discovery, Neurobiology, Systems Biology

My research aims to uncover the molecular aspects of protein aggregation diseases (also called PAD) which include neurodegenerative diseases (such as Alzheimer’s disease and Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis), myofibrillar myopathies (such as muscular dystrophies), as well as the formation of age-related cataracts.  Although very distinct, these disorders share a common underlying pathogenic mechanism.  Using a combination of biochemistry and in vitro approaches, cell biology, and primary cells / transgenic mouse models, we will investigate the post-translational modifications (PTMs) that drive these disease processes. Ultimately, this research will provide a platform for future drug discovery efforts against these devastating diseases.

Song, Juan
WEBSITE
EMAIL
PUBLICATIONS

PHD PROGRAM
Cell Biology & Physiology, Neuroscience, Pharmacology

RESEARCH INTEREST
Behavior, Developmental Biology, Neurobiology

Our primary research interest is to identify the mechanisms that regulate neural circuit organization and function at distinct stages of adult neurogenesis, and to understand how circuit-level information-processing properties are remodeled by the integration of new neurons into existing circuits and how disregulation of this process may contribute to various neurological and mental disorders. Our long-range goals are to translate general principles governing neural network function into directions relevant for understanding neurological and psychiatric diseases. We are addressing these questions using a combination of cutting-edge technologies and approaches, including optogenetics, high-resolution microscopy, in vitro and in vivo electrophysiology, genetic lineage tracing and molecular biology.

Tarantino, Lisa M.
WEBSITE
EMAIL
PUBLICATIONS

PHD PROGRAM
Genetics & Molecular Biology, Neuroscience, Pharmaceutical Sciences

RESEARCH INTEREST
Behavior, Genetics, Genomics, Molecular Biology, Neurobiology, Pharmacology, Systems Biology

The Tarantino lab studies addiction and anxiety-related behaviors in mouse models using forward genetic approaches. We are currently studying a chemically-induced mutation in a splice donor site that results in increased novelty- and cocaine-induced locomotor activity and prolonged stress response. We are using RNA-seq to identify splice variants in the brain that differ between mutant and wildtype animals. We are also using measures of initial sensitivity to cocaine in dozens of inbred mouse strains to understand the genetics, biology and pharmacokinetics of acute cocaine response and how initial sensitivity might be related to addiction. Finally, we have just started a project aimed at studying the effects of perinatal exposure to dietary deficiencies on anxiety, depression and stress behaviors in adult offspring. This study utilizes RNA-seq and a unique breeding design to identify parent of origin effects on behavior and gene expression in response to perinatal diet.

Reissner, Kathryn
WEBSITE
EMAIL
PUBLICATIONS

PHD PROGRAM
Neuroscience

RESEARCH INTEREST
Behavior, Cell Biology, Neurobiology, Pharmacology, Physiology

Research in our lab is focused on understanding how cocaine abuse affects glial cell physiology, in particular neuron-astrocyte communication.  We utilize the rat cocaine self-administration/reinstatement model, which allows us to test hypotheses regarding not only how chronic cocaine use affects properties of astrocytes and the tripartite synapse, but also how compounds affecting glial cells may influence synaptic processing within the brain’s reward neurocircuitry and behavioral measures of drug seeking.

McElligott, Zoe
WEBSITE
EMAIL
PUBLICATIONS

PHD PROGRAM
Cell Biology & Physiology, Neuroscience

RESEARCH INTEREST
Neurobiology, Pharmacology, Physiology

Research in the McElligott lab focuses on the circuits and plasticity that underlie the development and manifestation of psychiatric illness, specifically disorders on the affective spectrum including alcohol use disorders, drug abuse and anxiety disorders. The lab has expertise in studying neurotransmission from the level of signaling in individual cells through behavior utilizing a variety of techniques including: whole-cell electrophysiology, in vivo and ex vivo fast-scan cyclic voltammetry (FSCV), circuit manipulations (optogenetics, chemogenetics, caspase ablation), and behavioral assays.  There are several ongoing projects in the lab. One area we are focused on explores the role of neurons in the central nucleus of the amygdala (CeA) that express the neuropeptide neurotensin and the role these neurons play in alcohol related phenotypes. Additionally we are interested in exploring how norepinephrine modulates neurotransmission within the brain and how the norepinephrine system itself is modulated in models of substance abuse and post-traumatic stress. Beyond these studies, we are actively engaged in several other collaborative projects with other labs at UNC, as well as around the world.

Stein, Jason
WEBSITE
EMAIL
PUBLICATIONS

PHD PROGRAM
Bioinformatics & Computational Biology, Neuroscience

RESEARCH INTEREST
Bioinformatics, Computational Biology, Developmental Biology, Genomics, Neurobiology

We are a lab exploring how variations in the genome change the structure and development of the brain, and in doing so, create risk for neuropsychiatric illness. We study genetic effects on multiple aspects of the human brain, from macroscale phenotypes like gross human brain structure measured with MRI to molecular phenotypes like gene expression and chromatin accessibility measured with genome-sequencing technologies. We also use neural progenitor cells as a modifiable and high fidelity model system to understand how disease-associated variants affect brain development.