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Drosophila sensory neurons tile the larval body wall, Dr. Chun Han

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Ben Cheyette

Signaling in Psychiatry

The major direction of research in my laboratory is to use transgenic mouse models, primary neural cell culture, and other molecular tools to investigate neurodevelopmental and behavioral functions of genes/proteins implicated in psychiatric disease through contemporary large-scale human genetic studies.  There is broad consensus that major psychiatric disorders have a substantial developmental component and can result from defects in the organization of neurons as they are born, mature, and grow.  The molecules that are a focus of research in my laboratory are involved in intercellular signaling pathways that contribute to these biological processes: in particular we specialize in the Wnt signaling pathway based on several lines of evidence that disruption of this pathway can contribute to major mental disorders and is a target of psychiatric pharmacology.  Our studies have honed in on the role of this pathway in the development of synapses and of neuronal architecture in the forebrain, especially the prefrontal cortex.