Bernardo L. Sabatini

Harvard University


Primary Section: 24, Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience
Membership Type: Member (elected 2019)

Biosketch

Bernardo Sabatini is a professor in the Department of Neurobiology at Harvard Medical School and an Investigator of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. He is known for his work on the structure and function of synapses in the mammalian brain. He was born in New York City to Argentinian immigrants who moved to the United States to do biomedical research at Rockefeller University. Sabatini studied engineering at Harvard College before obtaining a PhD from the Department of Neurobiology at Harvard Medical School and an MD from the Harvard/Massachusetts Institute of Technology Program in Health Sciences and Technology.  Dr.  Sabatini did a postdoctoral fellowship in the laboratory of Dr. Karel Svoboda at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory in New York. After his postdoctoral research, Dr. Sabatini joined the faculty in the Department of Neurobiology at Harvard Medical School in 2001.  In 2008 Dr. Sabatini was named an investigator of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute and, in 2014, the Alice and Rodman W. Moorhead III Professor of Neurobiology at Harvard Medical School. He lives in Newton with his three boys.

Research Interests

The Sabatini laboratory focuses on understanding the function and regulation of synapses in the mammalian brain with a particular focus on these processes in the basal ganglia, an evolutionarily conserved brain region that controls many aspects of behavior and whose perturbation leads to devastating neuropsychiatric diseases. In order to conduct their studies, Dr. Sabatini's laboratory creates new optical and chemical methods to be able to observe and manipulate the biochemical signaling associated with synapse function. His laboratory has uncovered peculiar aspects of mammalian neurons and synapses in the basal ganglia, including neurons that release different neurotransmitters onto different classes of their downstream target neurons. This laboratory strives to understand the contribution of these specialized synapses in the basal ganglia to action selection, the process by which an animal uses information about its past experience and its current goals, to choose what to do next.

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