PhD in Neuroscience, Mayo Clinic
BA in Biochemistry, St. John's University
Neurons go on a remarkable journey as they transition from dividing stem cells to components of a functioning neural circuit. Using advanced molecular (such as Crispr-based genome editing) and cell biological techniques (including 2-photon imaging), I am studying how this process occurs in the retina. Particularly, I am interested in how the amacrine cells of the retina use the atypical cadherin Fat3 to complete this process. Amacrine cells normally develop only one neurite that synapses with other neurons in the inner plexiform layer. Previously, the lab has shown that loss of Fat3 leads to amacrine cells that form a second neurite which forms synapses in an ectopic synaptic layer. How Fat3 regulates amacrine cell development remains a mystery.
Currently I am imaging amacrine cells as they develop in the retina, investigating biochemical interactions with Fat3, and creating mutant ES cell and transgenic mouse lines using Crispr. Together this will inform our understanding of how Fat3 functions in amacrine cell development and the transition from stem cell to mature neuron.