"As a neuroscientist with a medical background, I am inspired to understand how the brain works from the level of molecule to cognitive behavior, and to tackle serious brain diseases based on understanding of biological mechanisms."
I started at Genentech in September 2008. Prior to that, I spent 14 years in academia focused on molecular and cellular neuroscience - first at Massachusetts General Hospital/Harvard Medical School and then at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), where I was the Menicon Professor of Neuroscience and an Investigator of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. Before I got into research I completed a residency in general medicine in London, U.K. So I have seen human disease from two sides - as a scientist investigating basic mechanisms and as a medical doctor treating patients.
I came to Genentech because I believe this company is best equipped to translate our increasing knowledge of the basic causes of disease into potential treatments for serious brain disorders. I am energized by the people at Genentech, who have the right combination of know-how, creativity and motivation to make a difference for patients.
I have mentored over 30 postdocs and PhD students at Harvard, MIT and Genentech. Many have gone on to successful careers in academia (MGH/Harvard, Broad Institute, UCSD, Vanderbilt, Georgetown, Wisconsin, Erasmus (Netherlands), International Institute of Molecular and Cell Biology in Warsaw (Poland), CNR, Milano (Italy), Univ Munich (Germany), London Univ (UK), KAIST (Korea), Academia Sinica (Taiwan) etc), and industry (Amgen, Biogen, Vertex, Otsuka, etc). Presently there are 5-6 postdocs and 1 Senior Research Associate in my lab.
Nature, 2014; ISSN: 0028-0836.
At Genentech, we have built a world-class Neuroscience Department and research program committed to understanding the mechanisms underlying major diseases of the nervous system and discovering drugs for these disorders.
My lab’s research is broadly divided into three areas: (i) the molecular mechanisms of synapse weakening and loss (which are characteristic of neurodegenerative disorders such as Alzheimer’s); (ii) the molecular regulation of synapses on inhibitory interneurons (dysfunction of which is implicated in schizophrenia and autism); (iii) uncovering fresh insights into the pathogenesis of Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease and frontotemporal dementia, starting from identification of novel human gene mutations that increase the risk of these disorders. These directions of research should yield new mechanisms and pathways that are of wide scientific interest and that might be a strategy for neurodegenerative and neurodevelopmental diseases.