Ms. Andrea Globa

Graduate Student
Department of Cellular and Physiological Sciences
The  University of British Columbia, Canada

Title: Cadherins mediate cocaine-induced synaptic plasticity and behavioural conditioning 
Hangout Schedule: March 6th: 10 am PST, 12 pm CST, 1 pm EST, 11.30 pm IST

Ms. Andrea Globa

Ms. Globa is a graduate student in Dr. Shernaz Bamji's lab

Overall research goals of the lab:
  • To understand how synaptic connections in the brain are formed, remodeled and eliminated; 
  • To determine how synaptic connections are impacted in the diseased brain; 
  • To further our understanding of the molecular mechanisms underlying learning and behaviour.

Synapses of the central nervous system are highly specialized regions of cell-cell contact designed to rapidly and efficiently relay signals from one neuron to another. By establishing a dynamic yet precise network of synaptic connections, the brain is able to attain a level of functional complexity that enables not only simple motor tasks, but also sophisticated emotional and cognitive behaviour. The study of how synapses form and function is therefore essential to our ultimate understanding of higher brain functions such as learning and memory. 

Synapses of the CNS are continuously formed, remodeled and eliminated over the life of an organism. It has been suggested that perturbation of these processes may contribute to the etiology of neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and Huntington’s disease, as well as developmental and psychiatric diseases including autism and schizophrenia. 

Our lab primarily focuses on the role of cadherin adhesion complexes in regulating synapse formation and function. To better understand the functioning of the brain, and to design novel therapies to protect synapse form and function, we ask: 

① How do cadherin adhesion complexes localize synaptic proteins to axodendritic contact sites? 

② How does neuronal activity modify cadherin adhesion complexes and the subsequent regulation of synapse morphology and efficacy? 

③ What determines whether synaptic structures are stabilized or eliminated? 

④ How does regulating synaptic adhesion complexes impact learning and behaviour?