The focus of our research is to address how neuronal development contributes to the assembly and function of nervous systems and how defects in this process lead to diseases (e.g. Down syndrome and autism). We are particularly interested in how experience and neuronal activity shape the development of nervous system. To this end, we primarily use Drosophila neurons as a system to investigate the development of dendrites, axons and synapses, as well as pathogenic mechanisms underlying neurodevelopmental and neurodegenerative diseases. We also use mice to test the evolutionary conservation of the molecular mechanisms that we discover in Drosophila and use mouse models of human diseases to develop therapeutic strategies for neurodevelopmental diseases.
We are pursuing the following projects: