The human brain is an intricate network of neurons and glia cells that communicate via multiple signaling systems. The goal of our research is to identify the molecular mechanisms that orchestrate the development and adult function of excitatory projection neurons as well as their interactions with inhibitory interneurons and myelin-producing glia cells. Furthermore, we study pathological processes that compromise cellular communication in the brain, and thereby may promote the pathogenesis of neuropsychiatric disorders, such as schizophrenia.

We study these processes using genetically modified mice that permit spatially and temporally controlled genetic interventions. Our research is focused on two protein families, the neuronal basic helix-loop-helix transcription factors and neuronal growth factors, the neuregulins. These proteins are important regulators of axonal growth and myelination, and thus critically required for the formation of functional networks in the peripheral and central nervous system. In addition, these factors modulate synaptic functions and contribute to learning and memory processes in the adult brain.

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