Dr Patricio Opazo Olavarria: Synaptic memory

The main direction of our research is to understand how memories are stored in the brain and how they are lost during the progression of Alzheimer’s disease. Given the long-lasting nature of memories, we focus in the long-lasting structural modifications in the brain that might serve as a substrate for memory storage. In the last decade, the advancement of 2-photon imaging microscopy has allowed the in vivo visualisation of subcellular structural modifications in the brain as animals learn a given memory task.

Find out more


Originally from Chile, Dr Patricio Opazo completed undergraduate training in biochemistry at the Universidad de Concepcion. Given a general interest in the molecular basis of cognition, he pursued a PhD at the University of California, Los Angeles in the laboratory of Dr Thomas O’Dell investigating the signaling pathways driving long-term potentiation (LTP) of synaptic transmission, an electrophysiological signature of memory formation. For his postdoctoral training, he joined the lab of Dr Daniel Choquet at the Université de Bordeaux to take a more reductionist approach in the study of memory by investigating the trafficking of individual AMPA receptors to synapses, a critical step for synaptic potentiation, using single-particle tracking microscopy. Dr Opazo then joined the lab of Dr Tobias Bonhoeffer at the Max-Planck Institute in Munich and took a more integrative approach to memory by investigating the role of subcellular structural changes underlying behavioral memory. In April 2016, Dr Opazo joined the Queensland Brain Institute’s Clem Jones Centre for Ageing Dementia Research to continue investigating the basis of memory and at the same time, take advantage of this basic knowledge to elucidate the alterations leading to memory dysfunction in Alzheimer’s disease.