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Neurobiology research in MCDB is a remarkably broad-based, collaborative and interdisciplinary endeavor. Our students and faculty are investigating exciting issues ranging from the development of the nervous system to sensory signaling, animal behavior, neurodegenerative conditions (such as Alzheimer's, Macular Degeneration and retinal detachment), regeneration of the nervous system using stem cell biology and regenerative medicine, molecular mechanisms underlying intracellular protein trafficking and drug addiction. To study these research areas, we are employing state-of-the-art strategies and technologies in biophysics, biochemistry, electrophysiology, molecular genetics, behavioral assays, molecular biology and cell biology, Our work focuses on many model organisms, ranging from worms to flies and mice, and also includes studies on human patients. Our many UCSB collaborators come from all over the campus including the Departments of Chemistry and Biochemistry, Psychological and Brain Sciences, Physics, Materials and Computer Science.


Dennis Clegg

Human stem cell research; Molecular mechanisms of stem cell differentiation; Derivation of ocular cells from stem cells; Soft tissue regeneration.

Stuart Feinstein

Biochemistry and Cell Biology of Neuronal Development; Biochemistry of Neurodegenerative Diseases; Structure, Function and Regulation of the Microtubule Associated Protein, Tau; Cytoskeletal Regulation.

Steven Fisher

Structure and function in the vertebrate retina with an emphasis on mechanisms underlying photoreceptor degeneration and the role of glial cells in normal and injured or diseased retina.

Michael Goard

The overarching goal of my research is to better understand how the mammalian neocortex processes and stores incoming sensory information.

Sung Soo Kim

Neural circuit dynamics and behavior; navigation in a visual environment; neural mechanisms of object selection a.nd decision-making

Kenneth S. Kosik

Neural plasticity including the molecular basis of plasticity, the evolution of synapses, and disease-related impairments of plasticity such as occurs in Alzheimer's disease.

John Lew

Molecular mechanisms of signal transduction; Alzheimer's Disease and other protein aggregation/misfolding diseases; molecular biology, enzymology, and protein structure/function.

Matthieu Louis

Our lab combines theory and experimentation to understand how navigational decisions come about in terms of neural-circuit computation. 

Dzwokai Zach Ma

Trafficking regulation of receptors and channels in the nervous system.

Craig Montell

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.

Joel Rothman

Molecular and genetic control of development in the nematode C. elegans; regulation of programmed cell death; mechanisms of tumorigenesis.

Julie H. Simpson

Genetics, Neural Circuits, and Motor sequences

Ikuko Smith

Information processing by neural circuitry with a special focus on the role of active dendrites in nonlinear modes of synaptic integration.

William Smith

Developmental genetics and morphogenesis of the primitive chordate Ciona.

Carol Vandenberg

Cell biology of the nervous system and muscle. Mechanisms of ion channel trafficking; function and regulation of potassium channels; polarized targeting of membrane proteins and neuronal cell polarity.

Thomas Weimbs

Investigation of molecular mechanisms underlying polycystic kidney disease (PKD) and related renal diseases. Membrane trafficking and epithelial cell polarity.

Leslie Wilson

Mechanism and regulation of microtubule polymerization and dynamics; mechanism of action of microtubule-targeted anticancer drugs and microtubule-regulatory proteins.