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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





Neural (Neurons & Glia) diversity is essential for proper brain function and a complete understanding of the functional brain can’t be achieved without knowing how this diversity is generated. Understanding the genetic, cellular and molecular mechanisms of neuronal diversity is essential for understanding normal brain development and disorders of the neural systems. I am interested in finding the molecular mechanisms of neural diversity - From stem cells to neural circuits.


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.



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    I use fruit fly type II neural stem cells as model system, as they share many similarities with the primate outer subventricular zone (OSVZ) progenitors. Both generate intermediate neural progenitors (INPs), which undergo self-renewing divisions to generate vast neural diversity of the higher-order brain centers.

    Using a novel cell-specific RNA-Seq method (TU-tagging), I identified differentially expressed transcripts that included novel transcription factors and RNA-binding proteins. Surprisingly, I discovered that the insect steroid hormone Ecdysone regulates early to late gene transitions, and neural diversity. My work has helped further our understanding of how temporal patterning programs operate in neural progenitors with complex division patterns, and has helped draw exciting parallels between Drosophila and mammalian neurogenesis in the discovery of extrinsic signaling events regulating temporal patterning. Our work uses the model system Drosophila (fruit fly), but it raises the question of whether hormones also regulate mammalian or human neural stem cell progeny during in utero development. It also raises the possibility that hormones may be useful for the generation of specific types of neurons from induced pluripotent stem cells.

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.

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








The continuous function of the human nervous system is dependent upon the maintenance of trillions of synaptic connections. My goal is to identify the molecular mechanisms that are required for the maintenance and restoration of synapses in the CNS, using the fruit fly as a model. My central hypothesis is that cell adhesion molecules, implicated in the establishment of synapses, are also required for their long-term maintenance.

Austin Seroka

Grad Student


B.S. New College








During nervous system development, each individual neuron is tasked with locating the correct synaptic partners and establishing synaptic connectivity. I am interested in the developmental mechanisms underlying the assembly of motor circuits in the Drosophila VNC, including the specification of neuronal connectivity by temporal patterning and birth order. I address these questions using stochastic cell labelling, live imaging and optogenetic tools.

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






PhD Dogtorate


Research in Squeaky toy

dissection and napping


Current Undergrads


Claire (Hoa) Bui




Nelson Perez Catalan



Rita Yazejian






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