Postdocs

Fernando Cruz Alsina

Faculty lab
Email address: fernando.alsina@duke.edu
919-613-6011
Research Interest: Neural Stem Cell biology, cortical development and RNA regulation. Neural stem cells (NSCs) generate a remarkable diversity of neurons and glial cells during development of the cerebral cortex and defects in progenitor proliferation and differentiation are a major cause of neurodevelopmental disorders such as microcephaly, autism, seizures and intellectual disability. RNA-binding proteins (RBPs) are involved in post-transcriptional regulation and mRNA metabolism and have recently emerged as critical regulators of NSCs during cortical development. In April 2017, I joined Dr. Debra Silver´s lab where I plan to study the role of RBP in neurogenesis during cortical development and the regulation of RNA and signaling in neural progenitors. I will use multidisciplinary approaches that include In Utero Electroporation, progenitor primary cultures, brain slices, transgenic mice, biochemical assays and transcriptomic/translational profiles. Background: I am from Argentina and I did my graduate training in Dr. Gustavo Paratcha´s lab in the Institute of Cellular Biology and Neuroscience “Prof. E. De Robertis” (IBCN) in the University of Buenos Aires (UBA – CONICET), Argentina. My PhD thesis focused on the negative regulation of neurotrophic factor receptor signaling in developing neurons. Personal Interests: In my free time I really enjoy hiking, playing soccer, going out with friends and family, traveling around, reading and watching series and movies.

Martin Bohlen

Faculty lab
Email address: martin.bohlen@duke.edu
I am currently working on discovering which viral vectors are best suited for transduction of exogenous genes into select neuronal populations. My goal is to use optogenetics to control the activity of desired neuronal populations in awake and behaving non-human primates in order to understand how the brain controls the movements of the eyes. Additionally, I hope that this viral work, in this animal model will lead to better therapeutic tools clinically for treating neuropsychiatric and neuromuscular disorders.

Claire De March

Mentor
Hiroaki Matsunami
Faculty lab
Email address: claire.de.march@duke.edu
919-668-3622
From a molecule to an odor. My research is focused on the description of olfaction process at the atomic level. I build a virtual olfactory system by means of computational and microbiology approaches in order to simulate the neuronal mechanism of the perception of smell. This way, I may help elucidating links between the structure of a chemical and its odor. During my PhD at the University of Nice Sophia Antipolis, I have computationally investigated the interaction between odorant compounds and odorant receptors, but my long-term aim is to fully understand the link between odorant receptors and odorants at a molecular level as well as between odorant receptors and odor perception.

Miranda Scalabrino

Mentor
Greg Field
Faculty lab
I have a background in retinal gene therapy, developing a treatment for an animal model of an inherited retinal disease and engineering novel AAV capsid variants. Currently, I study retinal circuitry functionality both in healthy tissue and models of degenerative retinal disease. In particular, I want to understand how different bipolar cell types shape visual processing, and how that processing is impaired once connectivity between photoreceptors and bipolar cells is lost in advanced forms of disease.

Francesco Severino

Faculty lab
I am a highly motivated neurobiologist fascinated by the mechanisms that the nature uses to develop and shape the central nervous system. In particular, I want to investigate the cross-talk between neurons and glia cells that underlies proper brain function. Moreover, I am interested in developing and applying advanced imaging and physiological technologies to investigate and repair the nervous system.

Yang Zhang, Ph.D.

Mentor
Huanghe Yang
Faculty lab
Email address: yang.zhang3@duke.edu
Despite my graduate training as a biomedical engineer, I’m interested in deciphering the physiological roles of membrane-bound ion channels and lipid transporters. Currently I’m focusing on understanding the physiological functions of the newly discovered TMEM16 protein family, which is consisted of calcium-activated chloride channels and calcium-dependent phospholipid scramblases. TMEM16-mediated chloride transport and phospholipid scrambling are involved in many important cellular processes, and the members have already been linked to several devastating diseases, including cerebellar ataxia, muscular dystrophy and scott syndrome. My current long-term goal is to elucidate the molecular underpinnings how TMEM16 ion channels and lipid scramblases play a role in both nervous and peripheral systems, and especially how their cellular functions are implicated in human health and disease.