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Past Project Leaders

Dr. Kara Pratthead shot of Kara Pratt

Associate Professor, Department of Zoology and Physiology  | (307) 766-5589  |  Biological Sciences 305  | Faculty page

The role of presenilin in a developing visual circuit

Project Summary:

To function properly, a neural circuit needs to be built properly. How a population of newborn neurons self-assembles into networks that receive, integrate, and transform external stimuli into an internal perception is a fundamental and important question in neuroscience. To address this question, we study molecular mechanisms underlying nervous system development. For this project we focus on the role of a single molecule, Presenilin (PS), an interesting molecule that was first identified, and named, in the context of Alzheimer’s disease, but is now known to carry out a myriad of functions that are important during development. A comprehensive understanding of the function of PS throughout normal nervous system development, however, is lacking, and providing such a comprehensive understanding is the goal of this project. For this, we study PS in the developing Xenopus tadpole retinotectal projection, a model system ideally suited for the study of a protein across all stages of neural circuit development, and at the cell, circuit, and behavioral levels, something not presently possible in mammalian systems. This stems from the fact that, unlike its mammalian counterparts, the development of this vertebrate is entirely external, from fertilization and onwards, allowing for access to all stages of development without disrupting, nor needing to attempt to mimic, the embryo’s natural environment. By using this particular model system to study a molecule which has many substrates and is associated with both neural development and neurodegeneration, this project promotes the identification of links between the way a circuit develops, and how it functions, or dysfunctions later in life. Determining how pathologies at the single cell level impact visual circuit function and visually guided behaviors will provide key fundamental concepts both for the visual system and potentially sensory circuits in general.



 Dr. Baskaran "Baski" Thyagarajanhead shot of Baski

Associate Professor of Pharmaceutics and Neuroscience, School of Health Sciences  | (307) 766-6147  | Health Sciences 279  | Baskilab webpage


Modulation of pain signaling mechanisms by Botulinum Neurotoxin A

Project Summary:

This proposal investigates the novel mechanisms by which botulinum neurotoxin A suppresses pain, by inhibiting the sensitization of TRPV1/TRPA1 channel proteins by PKC and advances the safe, site specific use of the neurotoxin to counteract pain without use dependence or addiction.


Contact Us

Dr. Qian-Quan Sun, SBC Director, Professor

Department of Zoology and Physiology

Laramie, WY 82071

Phone: 307-766-5602



1000 E. University Ave. Laramie, WY 82071
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