The Morgan lab studies the cellular and molecular mechanisms by which neurons communicate with each other at specialized contacts called synapses. Synapse function underlies all complex human behaviors such as learning and memory, cognition, movements, sensations, and other vital bodily functions. After injury to the nervous system, the loss of synapses and their inability to regenerate contributes to the permanent impairments in movements and sensations. And in many diseases and disorders of the nervous system, degenerative processes may begin at synapses, leading to more widespread neuronal pathologies. Thus, our lab is interested in understanding the mechanisms by which synapses normally function and how this function can be restored after injury and in disease states. Current projects focus on identifying the mechanisms that lead to successful regeneration of synapses after spinal cord injury. We are also studying the mechanisms underlying synaptic dysfunction in Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s Diseases.
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