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Aref Arzan Zarin



B.Sc. Kharazmi Univ., Tehran, Iran

M.Sc. Tarbiat Modaress Univ (TMU) Iran

Ph.D. Trinity College Dublin, Ireland

         Labrador JP lab





Rhythmic behaviors are set of cyclic movements involved in vital physiological processes (e.g. locomotion, respiration, mastication, etc) of all animals. How these behaviors are performed is still a big challenge for neuroscientists. Among rhythmic behaviors, locomotion presents an experimentally amenable model system for studying how ensembles of neurons conduct a specific behavioral output.  We study peristaltic larval locomotion of Drosophila as a model of rhythmic behavior.



Chris Q. Doe, Ph.D.

Principal Investigator

Professor & Co-Chair

Institute of Neuroscience

Investigator, Howard Hughes Medical Institute



B.S., New College

Ph.D. Stanford University





 Chris Doe investigates central nervous system (CNS) development. His lab is currently interested in (1) asymmetric cell division and self-renewal/differentiation of Drosophila neural stem cells, (2) temporal identity programs used to generate an ordered series of neural progeny from a single progenitor, (3) the generation of interneuron diversity and establishment of neural circuits that drive larval locomotion, and (4) the use of TU tagging—a method for covalently labeling nascent RNA in specific cell types within intact tissues—to identify temporally regulated or activity-regulated RNAs in the mouse CNS.


Sen-Lin Lai, Ph.D.



B.S. National Tsing Hua Univ., Taiwan

M.S. National Tsing Hua Univ., Taiwan

Ph.D. UMass Medical School





Mutations such as prospero lead to brain tumors due to the transformation of neurons back to neural stem cells. Notably, other mutations have the opposite effect of eliminating neural stem cells (producing fruit flies with extremely small brains).


Mubarak Hussain Syed



B.S. University of Kashmir

M.S. University of Kashmir

Jr. Research Fellow, NCBS, Bangalore India

Ph.D. Universität Münster, Klämbt Lab





Development of the central nervous system (CNS) requires both spatial and temporal patterning mechanisms, which generate an enormous number of diverse neuronal and glial subtypes from a relatively small pool of neural progenitors. Defects in these processes lead to severe neurological disorders. The Drosophila CNS provides an excellent platform for elucidating the developmental mechanisms and for identifying genes that are relevant to the mammalian neurogenesis.

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    Drosophila type II neuroblasts and mammalian OSVZ progenitors share many similarities, both bud off self renewing intermediate neural progenitors (INPs) and send a diverse array of neurons and glial cells to the higher order brain centers. Addressing how this extraordinary diversity in the brain is generated is a very interesting and fundamental question. Recently our lab has shown that INPs undergo temporal patterning and express a series of transcription factors, which specify different neural subtypes over time. However, how the parental type II NB changes over time to generate the distinct neuronal subtypes of the adult central complex is not known. The main aim of my study is to identify temporal programs of gene expression in type II NBs, and to characterize their function in generating neural diversity. Currently, I am utilizing transcriptomic and genetic approaches to identify and study the temporal identity factors in type II neuroblasts.

Sonia Sen



B.Sc. St. Joseph's College of Arts and

         Science, Bangalore, India

M.Sc. King's College London, UK

Ph.D. National Centre for Biological

        Sciences, TIFR, Bangalore, India






A small number of neural stem cells (neuroblasts) generates the vast diversity of neuron types seen complex nervous systems.  Stem cells are able to generate this diversity through the use of two axes of information: Spatial and temporal. Unique spatial cues converts a pool of initially similar neuroblasts into individually distinct ones.  Then, temporal cues (in the form of a sequence of genes expressed in the neuroblast) ensures that diverse neural subtypes are produced from each distinct neuroblast over time.  I am interested in working out how these two axes of information are integrated within the neuroblast.

Sarah Ackerman



B.S. The College of New Jersey, Ewing


Ph.D. Washington University School

         of Medicine






The mammalian brain is formed by billions of neurons which communicate at specialized chemical junctions called synapses. Individual neurons connect to form functional circuits, which are required for proper learning and memory. I'm interested in understanding the process by which a given neuron finds the correct synaptic pair, and how these synapses are maintained and modified over time. Recent works have identified astrocytes, the most abundant CNS glial cell type, as a major regulator of synaptic development. Using the Drosophila larval system, my work will test the hypothesis that astrocytes inform circuit formation and function.

Arnaldo Carreira-Rosario



B.S. University of Puerto Rico-Mayaguez


Ph.D. University of Texas- Southwestern

         Medical School








Neurons form highly specific synaptic connections through poorly understood mechanisms. Patterned spontaneous network activity (PaSNA) is thought to play a crucial role in this process. However, it is not known how individual neurons behave during PaSNA, whether PaSNA drives synaptogenesis, or the molecular mechanisms used by PaSNA to promote circuit formation. My goal is to gain a deeper understanding of PaSNA at the cellular, synaptic and molecular level using Drosophila larval locomotion as a system.

Tim Warren



A.B Physics, Harvard University


Ph.D. Neuroscience, University of

California, San Francisco








I am studying the neural mechanisms that underlie spatial navigation in Drosophila. I am particularly interested in understanding how the central complex, a midline region conserved across all insects, supports flies' capacity to maintain a straight heading over long flights.

Matthew Clark

Grad Student



B.S. University of Arizona,

Biochemistry & Molecular Biophysics

University of Michigan PREP, Bing Ye Lab





RESEARCH INTERESTS In collaboration with labmate Stephanie McCumsey, I am functionally assessing the microcircuitry that coordinates the sequential activity of muscle groups during larval crawling. We posit that functional motor neuron and muscle groups are coordinated by separate and unique interneuronal inputs. I have performed a functional screen to identify candidates and am using neurogenetic techniques to identify individual interneurons. Finally, in collaboration with Richard Baines at the University of Manchester, I hope to use electrophysiological techniques to explore the intrinsic electrical properties of identified interneurons.

Kate Walsh

Grad Student



B.S. Biology, Temple University






I am interested in how the neuroblasts of the developing Drosophila brain maintain the ability to self-renew. More specifically, how the NB executes multiple asymmetric divisions to generate another self-renewing NB and a daughter cell that will form the differentiated cells of the brain.

Luis Sullivan

Grad Student



B.S. George Mason University






The patterning of progenitors into post-mitotic neurons provides the essential logic to generate appropriate neurons in correct locations at correct stages in development, but it is unknown if progenitors also specify the physiological properties of their adult progeny.  Previous research has uncovered highly conserved transcription factors that are sequentially expressed in neural progenitors, where they act to generate a diverse range of neural progeny.  These sequential arrays of transcription factors specify cell fate, I aim to determine if they also specify the “columnar-identity” of a neuron in the adult central complex of Drosophila.

Emily Sales

Grad Student


B.S. Neuroscience, University of California, Santa Cruz






I am interested in the role of cell surface molecules in the development of neural circuits.   Using genetic tools in the larval ventral nerve cord, I can visualize individual neurons and test the function of cell surface molecules in the assembly of neural circuits.

Brandon Mark

Grad Student


B.S. Pennsylvania State University






How does a neuron know which connections to make?  While much is known about different aspects that contribute to synaptic specificity such as axon guidance and adhesion molecules, the developmental determinants of these mechanisms remains relatively unknown.  I am interested in how temporal and spatial patterning mechanisms that convey neuronal identity contribute to the specification of connectivity.

Emily Heckman

Grad Student


B.S. Lehigh University








coming soon

Austin Seroka

Grad Student


B.S. New College








coming soon

Laurina Manning




B.S. Colorado State University

M.Ed. University of Oregon




Keiko Hirono




BPharm. Kyoritsu College of Pharmacy

Master of Pharmaceutical Sciences

Kyoritsu College of Pharmacy




Janet Hanawalt

Administrative Assistant



B.S. University of Oregon






Current Undergrads


Claire (Hoa) Bui



Mars Cantrell




Nelson Perez Catalan






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