Dr. Jason Christie of the Max Plank Institute for Neuroscience has received a $2.1 million grant over five years from the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke at the National Institutes for Health.
Christie leads the Synapse Physiology Group at Max Planck, which focuses on the fundamental aspects of neurotransmission at synapses, the point-to-point connections between neurons. The research funded by this NIH grant “is aimed at providing a better understanding of the electrical signaling properties of brain cells,” he said.
Brain cells, called neurons, have a dendrite, which is the receiving end, and an axon, which is the transmitting end. His grant focuses on the transmitting end, specifically, “how electrical signals are both transmitted and transformed by the axon.”
Christie’s goal is to understand how the electrical signals in axons are altered near synapses, the site of connections between neurons.
“This work has many implications for human health because a number of pathological conditions are specifically linked to axon dysfunction. If we have a better understanding of how signaling occurs in axons, we will be able to significantly accelerate the development of new treatments for such disorders,” he said.
Christie is particularly enthusiastic about the groundbreaking improvements in the research tools that are now available to neuroscientists.
Max Planck is the first American institute established by Germany’s prestigious Max Planck Society.
For more information, visit www.maxplanckflorida.org.
ABOVE: Dr. Jason Christie.