Daniel Chase, Ph.D
My lab uses the worm C. elegans to understand how dopamine modulates neuron excitability. By changing how easily neurons fire action potentials dopamine can consolidate memories and coordinate motor function but too much dopamine signaling is believed to underlie drug addiction and schizophrenia, and too little dopamine signaling causes Parkinson’s disease. With the worm we use a variety of experimental approaches including molecular biology, biochemistry, genetics, and direct optical measurements of neural activity to identify and characterize the cellular and molecular mechanisms used by dopamine. Recently we identified a novel mechanism of dopamine signaling that we plan to examine more fully in the next several years. The molecules that we have identified so far are conserved in humans and we expect that our research will identify novel therapeutic targets for the treatment of human neurological disorders.