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Sila Ultanir : Kinases and Brain Development Laboratory

We study how the links between brain cells develop to understand more about conditions where the brain works differently.

Circuits of nerve cells joined together by tree-like branches that stretch from cell to cell help the human brain work healthily. Scientists call these branches dendrites, they are just millimetres in size but carry signals and information that make the whole body work.

We already know that brain circuits rely on dendrites being formed in the right shape and place.

Our lab is trying to find out more about the signals sent between cells that guide dendrite development in humans and other mammals.

Defects in dendrite development are a feature of neurodevelopmental conditions like autism,

To progress our work we are looking closely at molecules called kinases. The human body carries genetic code for more than 500 different kinase molecules. Kinases help to regulate process inside cells. Many cancer and other disease treatments target kinases.

We are combining what we know about kinases with what we understand about dendrite development to unravel the signalling pathways dendrites rely on.

We apply a combination of techniques including imaging, chemical genetics, biochemistry and electrophysiology to mouse models and cell cultures to learn more about dendrite development.