Research Interests

My research has applied genetic and molecular strategies in Drosophila (fruitflies) to study two different areas of broad biological interest. We investigated a complex, naturally occuring genetic system in which an unususal mutant chromosome is transmitted at the expense of its normal partner to 100% of the offspring, in complete violation of Mendelian principles. The selfish behavior of this chromosome bears importantly on questions ranging from control of chromosome behavior to evolutionary mechanisms in natural populations. We identified the genes responsible for this phenomenon and discovered that the underlying defect involves a disruption of nuclear transport. My second area of investigation is neurogenetics where we have studied electrical signaling in the nervous system at the molecular level by isolating and characterizing mutations that specifically perturb nerve cell function and development. These studies have led to the identification of many key proteins, such as ion channels and components of the synaptic release machinery, involved in generation and transmission of nerve impulses. More recently, we have investigated molecular mechanisms that mediate synaptic growth and plasticity and that maintain normal neuronal viability. Discovery of the Drosophila genes enabled identification of the human counterparts, a number of which have now been linked to neurological and related disorders.

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Primary Section

Section 26: Genetics

Secondary Section

Section 24: Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience