Laboratory of Molecular Neuroscience
The Baenziger lab uses a variety of biophysical tools to study the structure and biological function of a superfamily of proteins, called pentameric ligand-gated ion channels (pLGICs). These neurotransmitter receptors are found in pre-, post-, and non-synaptic membranes of the central and peripheral nervous system where they play a key role in both synaptic communication and information processing.
The lab focuses on nicotinic acetylcholine receptors (nAChRs), which respond to the neurotransmitter acetylcholine to mediate synaptic communication. nAChRs are implicated in a number of neurological and neuromuscular disorders, including Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s disease, mood disorders, epilepsy, addiction, congenital myasthenic syndromes, etc. The Baenziger lab is interested in understanding the mechanistic details of how the activity of nAChRs are modulated during both normal and abnormal brain function, with the goal of developing new strategies to correct the altered synaptic communication that occurs in diseased states.