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


Campus Address: IND 314B, Box 0518
(415) 502-7609

David Kokel

High-throughput behavior-based neuroactive drug discovery

The challenge: Using small-molecules to understand the brain and behavior

Neuroactive drugs are among the most powerful tools available for neuroscience research. Most behavior modifying drugs were discovered via serendipitous observations. However, behavioral screens have been largely overlooked for systematic drug discovery because traditional assays in rodents and other large vertebrates are relatively inefficient, expensive and low-throughput.

Our research combines high-throughput technologies with complex behavioral phenotyping and large-scale data analytics.  The approach is to develop a systems level analysis of how small molecules affect the nervous system, discover new neuroactive drugs, and then work backwards to understand their mechanisms of action. The goal is to improve our understanding of the brain and behavior and accelerate the pace of neuroactive drug discovery.

We focus on three main areas:

-       Psychiatric medicine

-       Movement disorders

-       Learning & memory

We primarily use zebrafish as a model organism because they are wonderful animals with complex brains and behaviors, but are small enough for large-scale chemical biology.