Erik Ullian, PhD
Uncovering rules for circuit development during visual system competition
We are investigating synaptic competition and circuit wiring in the developing mouse visual system. This project is combines tools and expertise to study circuits at a molecular and functional level. We use a combination of genetic, optical and electrophysiological techniques to perturb and study cells which are in competition for synaptic territory in the visual thalamus. Our aim is to uncover the rules governing the wiring of this synapse, in the hopes that these rules will generalize to other brain regions where inputs must compete for their proper postsynaptic targets.
Studying the roles of human astrocytes in development and disease
One of the projects in our lab is also utilizing human pluripotent stem cells (hPSCs) to investigate the functional properties of neural cells (neurons, oligodendrocytes, and astrocytes) in normal and diseased states. Currently we have generated induced hPSCs (iPSCs) from patients with genetic-based neurodevelopmental and autism spectrum disorders. We are conducting functional assays to determine whether the derived neural cells exhibit synaptic alterations and to discover the underlying mechanisms causing these effects.