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Our Research

Causes and consequences of microglial regional specialization within basal ganglia (BG) circuits.  An overarching goal of this research program is to promote innovative approaches to treating CNS circuit dysfunction and disease. Microglia are ubiquitous, capable of self-renewal, highly plastic, and can be influenced from the periphery, making them highly attractive targets for therapeutic interventions in a broad range of pathological contexts. By studying the basic biology of BG microglia and their interactions with surrounding neurons as well as their responses to challenges and insults, we hope to provide new insight into pathological alterations that impact BG circuits, such as addiction and other psychiatric illness, neurodegeneration, toxic poisoning, and focal inflammatory conditions.

Imaging. We use high resolution imaging in fixed tissue as well as multiphoton imaging in acute brain slices and in vivo to monitor the dynamic process movements of microglia and their physical interactions with surrounding neurons. 

ElectrophysiologyWe use whole cell patch clamp recordings from both microglia and neurons to interrogate microglial phenotype and measure the impact of microglia on neuronal membrane excitability and synaptic function.

Molecular BiologyWe use fluorescence activated cell sorting (FACS) to isolate microglia and neurons from brain tissue for analysis of gene expression, protein content, and organelle function.

Caspase 3+ dying cell being phagocytosed by a nearby microglial cell during early postnatal development. 

3D reconstruction of microglial cell morphology in distinct basal ganglia nuclei.

Relative distribution of microglia (Iba1, red) and astrocytes (ALDH1L1-EGFP, white) in the basal ganglia.