Research Interests

I am a developmental neurobiologist, and I use genetic analysis to try to understand the mechanisms that control the wiring of the brain, that is, how neurons find their correct targets and make appropriate synaptic connections. Our goal has been to elucidate the molecular mechanisms that control growth cone guidance and target recognition in the developing organism. More recently we have begun applying these genetic tools to the issues of synapse formation, growth, and plasticity. We carry out this analysis in the fruit fly Drosophila. We have discovered some of the key genes and gene families that control neural specificity, including genes encoding a variety of ligands, receptors, signaling molecules, and regulators. Although we continue to discover these neural specificity genes in Drosophila, we have also begun to identify their counterparts in mammals, including humans, and believe that these genes are likely to control important aspects of human brain development as well.

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Primary Section

Section 24: Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience

Secondary Section

Section 28: Systems Neuroscience