About our Lab

The major focus of the lab is understanding the function, structure and dynamics of the GABA-A receptor. GABA-A receptors are the major inhibitory neurotransmitter gated-ion-channels in the brain. While GABA controls the opening of the anion-conducting channel, GABA-A receptor function is modulated by a variety of clinically important classes of drugs, including benzodiazepines, barbiturates, volatile and intravenous anesthetics, neuroactive steroids and alcohol.  Benzodiazepines (e.g. valium), barbiturates and neuroactive steroids are used in the treatments of sleep disorders, anxiety, epilepsy, panic disorders as well as other illnesses.  Mutations in the GABA-A receptor have been linked to human epilepsy.

Using computational modeling, protein chemistry, electrophysiological, molecular and biophysical approaches, we are elucidating how GABA binding and drug binding promotes changes in GABA-A receptor structure that mediate its function. In addition, we are examining how mutations associated with human epilepsies alter GABA-A receptor function, and how endogenous modulators of the GABA-A receptor regulate inhibition in the brain. We are also investigating the assembly and trafficking of the receptor and how interactions with other proteins modulate GABA-A receptor function.