Chu Laboratory

Neural circuits and neurodegeneration

Parkinson’s disease is a progressive, neurodegenerative disorder marked by loss of brain cells that produce dopamine, a neuromodulator that regulates voluntary movement and many other biological processes. As gradual depletion of dopamine in the brain and progressive degeneration of these critical cells occur, the hallmark symptoms of Parkinson’s disease start to appear, including akinesia, bradykinesia, rigidity, and tremor.

The Chu Lab integrates molecular, cellular, and systems neuroscience to identify cellular and synaptic mechanisms that contribute to progressive degeneration of midbrain dopaminergic neurons, and circuit dysfunction that underlies the devastating motor symptoms of Parkinson’s disease. Based on the information arising from this research, Dr. Chu and his team hope to develop novel strategies to target specific types of neurons or neural circuits for treatment.  

Previous work by Dr. Chu focused on dopamine receptor physiology and pharmacology, and revealed fundamental principles for dopamine and its analogues modulating cellular, synaptic and circuit function in the brain at molecular and cellular level.