Colloquium on the Brain and Cognition with Kang Shen, PhD, Stanford University
We study fundamental cell biology questions in the nervous system. These questions include how neurons establish polarized cytoskeletal networks during development, how polarized intracellular membrane trafficking gives rise to distinct morphology and function of axon and dendrites, how neurons coordinate intracellular synaptic assembly and extracelluar signaling events to form specific synaptic connections at particular subcellular locations, with appropriate size and density. We are working on these questions in the simple nervous system of nematode C. elegans, which enables us to study cell biology in live neurons in their natural environments. We also take advantage of the genetic tools in C. elegans to make precise mutations in genes-of-interest and studying localization of endogenous proteins.