Posts classified under: Neurobiology

Weizhe Hong, Ph.D.


The Hong Lab employs a multidisciplinary approach to identify the molecular and neural circuit mechanisms underlying normal social behaviors as well as their dysregulations in neuropsychiatric disorders. Social behaviors are essential for the survival and reproduction of animals. The control of social behavior is of particular importance in social species such as humans. Abnormalities in social behaviors are associated with several neuropsychiatric disorders, such as autism spectrum disorders and schizophrenia.  Despite its importance, many fundamental questions regarding social behavior and its disorders still remain unanswered. We aim to understand how social behavior is regulated at the molecular and circuit level and how social behavior and social experience lead to molecular and circuit level changes in the brain.

We study these questions across molecular, circuit, and behavioral levels, by linking genes to circuits to behaviors. To do that, we take a multi-disciplinary approach and utilize a variety of experimental and computational technologies, including but not limited to optogenetics/chemogenetics, in vivo/vitro calcium imaging and electrophysiology, various genetic and molecular biology techniques, systems approaches such as next-generation sequencing and bioinformatics, and engineering and computational approaches such as machine learning and computer vision.

Ronald Harper, Ph.D.


The laboratory examines neural mechanisms underlying sleep state: control of breathing, somatomotor activity, and cardiovascular action in developing and adult small animal preparations. Neural mechanisms are examined through neurophysiologic techniques which include assessment of intrinsic optical changes in neural tissue, functional magnetic resonance imaging, and chronic single neuron recording; the optical imaging and cell recording studies are often combined with microdialysis techniques to determine neurochemical mechanisms underlying cell action. We found that a substantial portion of sleep effects on normal and disordered breathing result from rostral brain influences on pontine and medullary structures, that activity over wide areas of these structures can be visualized during ventilatory and pressor challenges in freely behaving animals, and that immature development of mechanisms controlling descending rostral brain influences on breathing can place the organism at risk.

Baljit Khakh, Ph.D.


Baljit S. Khakh received a Ph.D. degree from the University of Cambridge in 1995. During his graduate studies, he also spent some time at the Geneva Biomedical Research Institute. Dr. Khakh completed a postdoctoral fellowship in the laboratory of Dr. Graeme Henderson at the University of Bristol, followed by a fellowship at the California Institute of Technology, working in the laboratories of Drs. Henry A. Lester and Norman Davidson as a Wellcome Trust International Prize Traveling Research Fellow, and Senior Research Fellow in the Division of Biology. In 2001, Dr. Khakh returned to Cambridge in the Division of Neurobiology at the MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology. Dr. Khakh joined UCLA in April 2006.

Rajesh Kumar, Ph.D.


Dr. Kumar has a doctoral degree in Radiology from Sanjay Gandhi Postgraduate Institute of Medical Sciences, UP, India in 2002. He received Postdoctoral training in Neurobiology at the Department of Neurobiology, David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA, University of California at Los Angeles, Los Angeles, California from December 2002 to June 2006. Dr. Kumar has been an Assistant Researcher from July 2006 to September 14, 2013 the Department of Neurobiology, David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA, University of California at Los Angeles, Los Angeles, California. Dr. Kumar joined in the Department of Anesthesiology with secondary appointment in the Department of Radiological Sciences, David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA, University of California at Los Angeles, Los Angeles, California in September 15, 2013. He has expertise in various magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and spectroscopy procedures. Dr. Kumar’s research is based on the evaluation of the neural tissue integrity, resulting from breathing or cardiovascular effects, in brain areas of patients with obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) and heart failure (HF) using MR procedures. It helps understand the brain processes that affect autonomic, memory and mood regulations in patients with these conditions.Dr. Kumar is funded by National Institutes of Health (NIH) since August 2012. His current NIH R01 studies involve determination of the pathological stage and nature of white matter damage, using diffusion tensor imaging, including fiber tractography, diffusional kurtosis imaging, and magnetization transfer imaging procedures, in recently-diagnosed, treatment naïve OSA subjects, and examination of how damaged brain autonomic regulatory areas (hypothalamus, insula cortex, and cerebellum) respond to an autonomic challenge, using diffusion tensor imaging and functional MRI procedures, and the laterality of functional responses to that challenge in HF subjects. Dr. Kumar has published over 80 peer-reviewed research manuscripts, 5 book chapters, and over 140 abstracts presented in national and international scientific meetings.