How do microglia shape normal and pathological circuit function?

Microglia are dynamic, macrophage-like cells within the CNS. They remove cellular debris and pathogens from surrounding tissue and exert powerful neuroprotective and/or neurotoxic effects during disease and injury. They can also modulate neuronal membrane properties and synapses, positioning these cells as key contributors to physiological and pathological circuit function. Microglia are not equivalent throughout the brain and exhibit specialized phenotypes in different nuclei of the basal ganglia (BG), circuits involved in reward and motivation.


We exploit these regionally specialized phenotypes to study how microglial variation shapes: 

  • Synaptic function of BG neurons

  • Resilience and viability of BG neurons

We also exploit this regional specialization of microglia to:

  • Identify cues that regulate basal microglial phenotypes to discover novel strategies for manipulating microglial properties


Lab News

June 19th, 2019, Dr. De Biase received a Glenn Foundation and AFAR Research Grant for Junior Faculty Grant.

June 7th, 2019, Katherine Espinoza, a graduate research student, has recently joined the lab! Welcome. 

April 21st, 2019, Our very own Katherine Espinoza received the 2019 Jennifer S. Buchwald Graduate Fellowship in Physiology. Congratulations!

January 10th, 2020, Lab Assistant Eric Moca received the Best Poster Award for his poster at the University of California, Riverside at the 13th Annual Center for Glial-Neuronal Interactions Symposium

April 2nd, 2020Maturation of the microglial population varies across mesolimbic nuclei was accepted by the European Journal of Neuroscience

April 16th, 2020, Undergraduate Tasneem Sadok won the 2020 HDSA Donald A. King Summer Research Fellowship from the Huntington's Disease Society of America

May 26th, 2020, Undergraduate Tasneem Sadok won the 2020 UCLA Life Science Deans Award for Neuroscience. Congratulations! 

Los Angeles, California