Duggan Professor of MCDB and Neuroscience
Phone: (805) 893-3634
Office: 4130-F Bio II
Website: Montell Lab
Molecular, Cellular, and Developmental Biology
University of California, Santa Barbara
Santa Barbara, CA 93106-9625
Dr. Craig Montell received his B.A. from the University of California, Berkeley in 1978, and his Ph.D. from the University of California, Los Angeles in 1983. He returned to UC Berkeley in 1984 as a Damon Runyon postdoctoral fellow. It was there that he discovered the founding member of the Transient Receptor Potential (TRP) family of ion channels, while working on Drosophila phototransduction. In 1988 he joined the faculty of the Department of Biological Chemistry at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine (JHUSOM), where he remained for nearly 25 years. At the JHUSOM his group identified the founding mammalian TRP channel, TRPC1. Dr. Montell moved to the University of California, Santa Barbara in 2013 as a Duggan Professor of MCDB and Neuroscience. He is a recipient of an NSF Presidential Young Investigator Award, an ACS Junior Faculty Award, and has received honorary doctorate degrees from the Catholic University, Leuven, Belgium in 2010 and from the Baylor College of Medicine in 2011. In 2013, he was elected a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.
A central question in neurobiology is defining the molecular and cellular mechanisms through which animals translate sensory input into behavioral outputs. Our lab is focusing on dissecting how animal behaviors are influenced by changes in temperature, light input, gustatory and olfactory cues, and mechanical forces. To tackle this problem, we are using the fruit fly, Drosophila melanogaster, because it allows us to employ a combination of molecular, cellular, biochemical, electrophysiological and genetic approaches to study the link between sensory signaling and animal behavior.
Sensory neurons are activated through stimulation of cell surface receptors and ion channels, leading to depolarization and release of neurotransmitters. We have identified a class of cation channels, called TRP channels, which are critical for responding to sensory stimuli and activation of afferent neurons. We are currently characterizing the roles of TRPs and other classes of ion channels and cell surface receptors in regulating animal behaviors ranging from thermotaxis to feeding behaviors, olfactory avoidance, circadian rhythms, courtship behavior and learning/memory. One of our long-term goals is to explain the cellular and molecular mechanisms through which different sensory inputs are received, integrated in the brain, and regulate an animal’s plastic behavioral responses to a changing environment.