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Research Mentor and Department
Dr. Joseph Dougherty, Departments of Genetics & Psychiatry
The Dougherty Lab as a whole is interested in the neurogenetics and genomics of behavior in health and disease. Dr. Dougherty has developed novel methods for transgenesis, gene manipulation, and RNA profiling of the brain, and the lab utilizes these methods to study genes relevant to autism spectrum disorders. Alongside Kristina Sakers, a Neuroscience PhD student in our lab, I will be investigating translation in perisynaptic astrocyte processes. This project stems from a broad study of neuronal local translation. It is well understood that neurons utilize ribosomes in pre-synaptic neuron components to synthesize proteins required for neurotransmission. Kristina hypothesized that astrocytes locally synthesize proteins similarly to neurons. Her preliminary data supports this novel hypothesis by showing that ribosomes exist in astrocyte processes. My project will focus on collecting data to validate Kristina’s preliminary data of the existence of certain RNAs at perisynaptic astrocyte processes (PAPs), utilizing techniques described below.