Dr Zhitao Hu: Neurotransmitter release

The Hu group focusses on candidate genes to understand their functional importance in synapses.

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Researcher biography

I have a broad background in electrophysiology, molecular biology, genetics, biochemistry, cell biology and cellular neurobiology. My research focuses on the molecular and cellular mechanisms of synaptic transmission and the function of neural circuits. My lab is currently supported by the Australian Research Council (ARC) Discovery Project grant, National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) Project grant, NARSAD young investigator grant, and NIH R21 grant. The long-term goal of our research is to understand how synaptic transmission and synaptic plasticity are regulated by the synaptic release machinery. In addition, we are interested how scaffolding proteins and cell adhesion molecules are involved in the modulation of synaptic function and neurological disorders, such as autism and epilepsy. We utilize behavioral, genetic, biochemical, imaging, and electrophysiological techniques to study signaling in the brain of the worm C. elegans. Our current research lines focus on: (1) balance of excitatory and inhibitory neurotransmitter release in the nervous system. (2) protein code for release kinetics of synaptic transmission; (3) molecular mechanism for synaptic release probability and short-term plasticity; (4) regulation of behavioral plasticity at molecular and circuit levels; (5) Functional analysis of autism candidate genes in regulating synaptic function.