Faculty Profile: Chen, Lulu Y.

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Faculty Information Lab Information (Packet Type, Course Title, & Department) Location
Chen, Lulu Y.
Lab Contact:
Lulu Chen
Department: Anatomy & Neurobiology
Irvine Hall, School of Medicine, UCI

Research Description

Synapse, where the brain processes information by transmitting signals, serve as connections between neurons in a vast network of communicating cells. The characteristics of the synapse have been widely proposed to be sites of information storage, engrams of learning and memory, and the key to cognitive disorders and diseases. My long-term scientific interests are to study the molecular mechanisms for learning and memory. Not only is this area interesting and incompletely understood, but it is critical to our understanding of cognitive disorders and mental disabilities. Studying such systems may ultimately lead to the development or discovery of treatments that provide a better quality of life for persons with congenital syndromes (e.g. autism spectrum disorder (ASD), fragile X syndrome (FXS), schizophrenia (SCZ)) and cognitive problems associated with insult and aging. In my investigations I take advantage of recent advances in neuroscience techniques which enable accurately target the specific types of neurons located at specific brain regions with temporal control in knocking out specific synaptic adhesion molecules, to ask that how the density of synapses are developmentally regulated and how this regulatory mechanism fail in the disordered brains. In addition to directly observe neuronal activity in behaving animal with genetic and molecular manipulations, I also identify activity-dependent signaling pathways underlying synaptic and structural changes during development in disease model. My research combines approaches covering genetics, molecular biology, viral injections with mouse brain surgeries, synaptic morphology analysis via immunocytochemistry, synaptic function with whole-cell patch clamp analysis, and animal behavioral tests to elucidate the functional organization of synapse development.

Requirements to Participate

Seeking highly motivated students who is interested in learning cutting-edge neuroscience techniques in a fast-pace positive environment. Student are expected to follow safety regulations and policies, communicative, responsible, and honest.
Students are encouraged to apply to summer research programs and participate in research activities/ lab meetings. 3 - 4 hours per unit.
Minimum 2 units

Faculty Means of Evaluation

Student's performance will be evaluated on: Attendance (working assigned hours, being on time), Lab work (accuracy, quality, integrated synthesis of information, safety), communication (questions and discussion with mentor, written/oral reports), and lab citizenship (organization, clean up, and follow through).