Yao Chen, PhD

Assistant Professor, WashU Neuroscience

Uncovering the spatial location and temporal dynamics of intracellular signals

My lab’s research attempts to fill the gap between molecular neuroscience and animal behavior by uncovering the spatial location and temporal dynamics of intracellular signals, because their dynamics carry critical information that explains subsequent modifications of cells, circuits, and behavior. Specifically, I want to understand how these features of molecular signals contribute to learning, sleep, and functions of neuromodulators. I plan to achieve my research objectives by imaging and manipulating, in live brain slices and freely moving mice, intracellular signals with high spatial resolution and temporal precision. These studies are important to understand mental disorders because mis-regulation of many signals inside the cell is involved in neurodegeneration, dementia, and psychiatric disorders. In addition, understanding the spatiotemporal dynamics of intracellular signals in response to e.g. neuromodulators will help us design better therapies, since different pharmaceuticals and other treatments are likely to induce signals with different spatiotemporal dynamics, thereby affecting their efficacies.

More about the Yao Chen lab