Our Scholars

Year Recruited: 2017
( 3 Scholars )

Ryan Baldridge, Ph.D.

Vanderbilt University; Biological Sciences
Biological Chemistry
Research Interests

Ryan will study basic mechanisms of membrane-bound protein-quality control systems. He plans to determine how membrane-bound systems select substrates to identify cellular pathways regulated by these systems (including ERAD). These systems are important in pathologies related to cell stress, protein misfolding, and protein misregulation. Some of the human conditions linked to these problems include Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease, and various cancers. His long-term goals are to define mammalian pathways regulated by membrane-bound quality control systems to understand how changing conditions target substrate proteins to these systems. Eventually, he would like to develop a screening platform to identify activators and inhibitors of these various quality control systems. Understanding these systems using novel assays should allow screening for, and refinement of, therapeutics with value in a wide range of pathologies.

Christian Burgess, PhD

University of Toronto
Molecular and Behavioral Neuroscience Institute, Molecular and Integrative Physiology
Research Interests

Our lab focuses on the neural circuitry underlying learning and behavior. We are specifically interested in how motivation-, arousal-, and feeding-related circuits can modulate higher-order brain areas and their responses to salient, learned cues in the environment.

We use a combination of techniques and approaches to map neural circuits in mice, including neuroanatomy, behavior, optogenetics, and in vivo calcium imaging. The goal is to identify specific neuronal projections, record their activity during motivated behaviors & learning, and manipulate their activity to demonstrate a functional role in behavior. We are currently interested in how specific hunger and sleep promoting circuits in the hypothalamus can facilitate learning of, and appropriate responses to, motivationally relevant sensory cues.

Michael Cianfrocco, Ph.D.

University of California - Berkeley; Biophysics
Biological Chemistry, Life Sciences Institute
Research Interests

We are a research team that is trying to understand the molecular details that determine how, where, and when motor proteins transport intracellular cargo. The past thirty years of cell biology research have set the stage for us to determine the general principles that underlie the complex process of intracellular transport. 

Our lab focuses on the structural biology and biophysics underlying microtubule-based intracellular transport, defects in which can result in neurodevelopmental and neurodegenerative diseases. The lab uses a combination of high-resolution cryo-EM and single-molecule techniques to investigate transporting of motor-cargo complexes.