Our lab combines bioengineering and in vivo imaging to understand how molecular signals shape complex biological systems such as the mammalian brain.
Visualizing Brain Signaling
Our brains consist of 170 billion cells of various types that form complex networks of nerve fibers, blood vessels and glia. These cells communicate with each other through signaling molecules such as neurotransmitters, neuropeptides and hormones to process information about the environment, store memories, and maintain healthy brain function. We develop and apply methods that visualize these signaling molecules in real-time and see their interplay on a brain-wide level. Combining state-of-the-art imaging approaches including optical, ultrasound and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) allows us to study fundamental molecular aspects of mammalian brain function in model organisms and deduce implications for healthy and pathological states of the human brain.
We use synthetic biology and protein engineering to develop new tools for measuring and controlling biological processes. On one hand, we engineer optogenetic actuators to precisely manipulate biomolecules and their functions via light, which allows us to understand the importance of single molecules in biological functions. On the other hand, we build biological sensors that read out and visualize molecular signals on a brain-wide scale using various imaging techniques. Both approaches complement each other to investigate the role of molecular signals for the function of single cells and entire organisms.