I started my independent research group at the Buck Institute for Research on Aging in September 2013. My lab is focused on elucidating the mechanisms by which neuromodulation by neuopeptides encodes longterm changes in the brain that influence behavior and aging. Despite strong evidence showing essential functional roles for neuropeptides in both behavior and basic physiology, at the cellular level a number of questions remain. We are exploring the role of extrasynaptic neuropeptide release in behavior, and developing strategies to interrogate the spatial and temporal specificity of neuropeptide signaling using C. elegans as a whole animal model. We are particularly interested in understanding how age related changes in neuropeptide levels in specific neurons can influence whole organism longevity. Our goal is to identify general principles by which neuropeptides modify neural circuits in a simple organism, and thus illuminate neuromodulation in more complex nervous systems.
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