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Eric E Turner MD, PhD

Adjunct Professor, Bio- Structures
Phone: (206) 884-1025

Site: Seattle Children's Hospital
Seattle Children's Reasearch Institute
1900 9th Avenue, (C9S-10)
Box 359300
Seattle, WA 98101
Link to CV


Our laboratory conducts research in basic mechanisms of brain development, primarily using transgenic mouse models. The nervous system includes many different classes of neurons, each exhibiting characteristic neurotransmitter receptors, ion channels, patterns of axonal growth, and synapse formation. Producing this cellular diversity during brain development presents an enormous problem of gene regulation. To better understand these processes, we study transcription factors of the homeodomain family that bind to DNA and activate or repress gene expression in specific classes of neurons. We also study epigenetic modifications of histones that govern the regulation of brain genes. Clarifying these basic developmental mechanisms will provide a context in which we may better understand complex human brain disorders with a developmental component, such as schizophrenia and autism.

Our work has focused mainly on three regions of the nervous system: As a model of neural gene regulation, we have extensively studied peripheral sensory neurons, particularly pain receptor neurons, and have identified key regulators of sensory development. In another line of research, we have studied the transcriptional mechanisms of midbrain development. Recently, we have focused on the habenula, a relatively under-studied brain region increasingly implicated in depression and possibly schizophrenia. We are very excited about new experiments in which we are using our developmental and genetic toolkit to specifically control the function of sensory and CNS neurons in vivo using “optogenetics” and genetically targeted cell ablation.

Our laboratory is housed in the Seattle Childrens’ Research Institute Center for Integrative Brain Research, a highly collaborative, state of the art facility for neuroscience research related to childhood disorders. Undergraduates, UW graduate students, and postdocs are invited to inquire about research opportunities.

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