Molecular and Cellular Neuroscience

Molecular Neuroscience is a branch of neuroscience that examines the biology of the nervous system with molecular biology, molecular genetics, protein chemistry and related methodologies.  Molecular biology studies how deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) forms ribonucleic acid (RNA) which makes protein.  When molecular biology is studied to gain understanding of the nervous system, then this is the basis of molecular neuroscience. Molecular neuroscience studies ion channels, receptors, enzymes to understand neural function.  Ionotropic receptors, metabotropic receptors, molecular anatomy, nervous system, neurogentive disease and molecular mechanismsneurotransmitter release, receptor cloning, signal transduction mechanisms, synaptic plasticity response, and voltage gated ion channels are a few of the fields studied by molecular neuroscientists.

Building on molecular neuroscience, cellular neurobiology focuses speed of message transmission in the brain.  In an instant, a series of neurons, conversing at synapses, are activated sequentially and they each transmit a signal, called an action potential, over long distances.  Action potentials and synaptic transmission are controlled by membrane proteins called ion channels.  The energy source is the array of transmembrane ionic gradients maintained by proteins called ion pumps.  These channels and pumps are the molecular targets of research in cell neurobiology.  The goals of those studying cellular neuroscience are to describe the structural properties of these channels and pumps, the basis of their chemical and electrical control mechanisms, their function on individual neurons and synapses, and their spatial localization on cells. Methods include microelectric recordings from individual cells, advanced microscopic methods, immunocytochemistry, and the biochemical and molecular methods common to all studies of protein function.
Molecular and Cellular Neuroscience faculty are listed below: