NIH-Funded Postdoctoral Position in Emerging Model for Behavior and Neurocircuitry
Neuroscience Research Institute
University of California, Santa Barbara
A postdoctoral position is available in the laboratory of Dr. William Smith (https://labs.mcdb.ucsb.edu/smith/william/). Research in this new focus area will investigate the behavior and neural circuity of the primitive chordate Ciona (publications: PMC5963834; and https://www.biorxiv.org/content/10.1101/514422v1). Tunicates like Ciona occupy the unique evolutionary position of being the closest invertebrate relatives of the vertebrates. This close evolutionary relationship is reflected in the structure of larval Ciona CNS, which has regions homologous to the vertebrate forebrain, midbrain/hindbrain, and spinal cord. Despite this similarity the larval CNS contains only 177 neurons. While the Ciona larval CNS has been the subject of investigation for many years, new research opportunities have opened with the recent completion of the Ciona tadpole CNS connectome.
Interested applicants please provide short description of research experience and interests,CV, and up to three references.
We seek applicants with expertise in various areas, including: calcium imaging of neural activity (and other advanced imaging methods), electrophysiology, quantitative behavioral assays, and modeling.
Internal Number: 7698
My lab investigates the development and function of the chordate nervous system using two models: the amphibian Xenopus and the tunicate Ciona. While amphibians are familiar to everyone, tunicates are primitive chordates and the closest relatives of the vertebrates. While the Ciona larval CNS is very simple (177 neurons), it has homologs of the vertebrate forebrain, midbrain, hindbrain and spinal cord, and its development closely parallels that observed in vertebrates. In our work, we focus on neural tube closure (NTC). In NTC the embryonic CNS transforms from a sheet of cells to a closed tube. This research started with the isolation of a Ciona line carrying a null mutation in a T-type Ca2+ channel (TTCC). The defect in this mutant appears to disrupt one of the final steps in NTC – the sealing of the edges of the forming tube. We have now extended our findings to show that TTCCs have a conserved function in vertebrate NTC. In a second area of research we study the function of the larval Ciona CNS, guided by the recently published synaptic connectome. In our research we use behavioral studies of normal and mutant Ciona larvae to investigate neural circuits underlying behavior.