Medical College of Wisconsin
Department of Cell Biology, Neurobiology & Anatomy
8701 Watertown Plank Road
Milwaukee, WI 53226-0509
(414) 955-6517 (fax)
PhD, University of Houston, 2002
Postdoctoral, University of Michigan
Program in Cell and Developmental Biology
Program in Neuroscience
Positions are currently available for PhD students and Postdoctoral Fellows. Please contact Dr. Nashaat Gerges at firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit our Postdoctoral Positions Web page.
Cellular and molecular mechanisms of synaptic plasticity
Communication between neuronal cells in the brain occurs through tiny contacts called synapses. The ability of these synapses to change their strength and remodel is termed synaptic plasticity, which is thought to be the cellular correlate of learning and memory. Several neurological and neurodegenerative diseases (e.g., Alzheimer's disease, schizophrenia and mental retardation) as well as some hormonal and homeostasis abnormalities (e.g., hypothyroidism and stress) have some form of synaptic plasticity malfunction. The research in the laboratory is focused on elucidating the molecular and cellular mechanism of synaptic plasticity, and the associated changes in the disease states.
The major experimental approach is the expression of recombinant neurotransmitter receptors and regulatory proteins tagged with GFP or RFP in organotypic hippocampal cultured slices or in vivo. In order to understand how these regulatory molecules contribute to neuronal function, the lab uses a combination of in vivo and ex vivo electrophysiology, biochemistry, confocal imaging and electron microscopy (EM) analysis.
Electrophysiological whole-cell double recording configuration. Stimulation of Schaffer collateral pathway and simultaneous recording from a control cell and a neuron expressing a regulatory molecule.
Confocal microscopy images for a neuron expressing GluR2-GFP and a regulatory protein tagged with RFP. Immunohistochemistry enables visualizing the surface recombinant receptors (Cy5).
Electron microscopy micrographs of GluR2/3 gold immunolabeling at hippocampal CA1 synapses. * denotes presynaptic terminals; PSD is the postsynaptic density.