Erik Ullian, PhD

Professor in Residence
Department of Opthalmology
+1 415 476-1314
Research Overview: 

Uncovering rules for circuit development during visual system competition

Image described in paragraph below.

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

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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.

Primary Thematic Area: 
Secondary Thematic Area: 
Developmental & Stem Cell Biology
Research Summary: 
My laboratory is interested in the interactions between neurons and glia that are required for the proper development and function of the nervous system.


Featured Publications: 

Astrocyte-encoded positional cues maintain sensorimotor circuit integrity.


Molofsky AV, Kelley KW, Tsai HH, Redmond SA, Chang SM, Madireddy L, Chan JR, Baranzini SE, Ullian EM, Rowitch DH

Phosphorylation of LKB1/Par-4 establishes Schwann cell polarity to initiate and control myelin extent.

Nature communications

Shen YA, Chen Y, Dao DQ, Mayoral SR, Wu L, Meijer D, Ullian EM, Chan JR, Lu QR

Dysregulation of astrocyte extracellular signaling in Costello syndrome.

Science translational medicine

Krencik R, Hokanson KC, Narayan AR, Dvornik J, Rooney GE, Rauen KA, Weiss LA, Rowitch DH, Ullian EM

Human iPS Cell-Derived Neurons Uncover the Impact of Increased Ras Signaling in Costello Syndrome.

The Journal of neuroscience : the official journal of the Society for Neuroscience

Rooney GE, Goodwin AF, Depeille P, Sharir A, Schofield CM, Yeh E, Roose JP, Klein OD, Rauen KA, Weiss LA, Ullian EM