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Nervous System Development

Kendal S. Broadie
Department of Biological Sciences
6270A MRB III, 465 21st Av S 37232
615-936-3937 (office)

What are the molecular mechanisms underlying coordinated movement, coordinated behavior, cognition, learning and memory? How does the nervous system circuitry underlying these behaviors develop, and how are these circuits modified by experience? How do these mechanisms go awry in inherited neurological diseases and age-related neurological decline? These questions center around the common themes of information transfer and information storage in cells of the nervous system. My long-term interest has been to understand the fundamental principles of nervous system development, function and plasticity by applying systematic genetic analyses to address these questions. My experimental organism, Drosophila melanogaster, has a long and distinguished history as a foremost forward genetic model of neurobiological mechanisms. The primary focus of my laboratory is on the synapse, the specialized intercellular junction which functions as the communication link between neurons. Chemical synapses mediate the vast majority of communication in the nervous system and exhibit plastic properties underlying the behavioral and cognitive malleability of the brain. Our experimental approach is to use a combination of forward genetics, reverse genetics and functional genomics to identify synaptic genes, generate mutants and then assay mutant laboratory uses this strategy to investigate three closely related questions: 1) How do synapses develop?, 2) How do synapses function?, and 3) How do synapses maintain adaptive plasticity?

For more information, please visit the lab website.