We are very excited to announce that the lab has been awarded an NIH R01 grant (!!!) to study local translation in astrocytes, which may underlie activity and biological maintenance catered to singular synapses or local synaptic fields.
Disorders such as autism spectrum disorder (ASDs), Fragile X Syndrome, and other forms of intellectual disability are thought to involve dysregulation of synapses. Learning entails the strengthening of individual synapses of neurons, and this is known to involve the generation of new proteins at those synapses. It is now known that for neurons to efficiently make and maintain synapses, they need the support of cells called astrocytes, which provide fine processes wrapping about the synapses. We are testing whether astrocytes, like neurons, have the ability to make new proteins locally in their processes, and, if so, whether/how this ability regulates the behavior of synapses.