Lulu Chen, PhD

I am an Assistant Professor in the Department of Anatomy and Neurobiology in the UCI School of Medicine. Research in my lab is focused on the synaptic and neuronal mechanisms underlying basic cognitive processes implicated  in  neuropsychiatric  disorders.  This  has  entailed  a  multidisciplinary  research  program  involving genetics, molecular biology, acute slice electrophysiology, and imaging microscopy. The goal of our research is to identify the causes and modulating signaling cascades involved in brain conditions and its deficit in learning and memory. We study different synapse types in the brain, how these synapses are regulated, function, and their roles in different types of learning and memory. 

Our multidisciplinary approach take advantage of genetic and molecular manipulations which enable accurately target the specific types of neurons located at specific brain regions (spatial control) within a specific development window (temporal control) to ask that how the density of synapses are developmentally regulated and how this regulatory mechanism fail in the disordered brains. Moreover, we identify activity-dependent signaling pathways underlying synaptic and structural changes during development in disease model. Studying such systems may ultimately lead to the development or discovery of treatments that  provide  a  better quality of  life for  persons  with  congenital  syndromes (e.g.  autism  spectrum disorder, fragile X syndrome, schizophrenia) and cognitive problems associated with insult, neurodegeneration, and aging

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