Sugandha Sharma, masters student graduate of the University of Waterloo's CTN, discusses her research and time in the laboratory of CTN Founding Director Chris Eliasmith as well as her current PhD research at MIT on the Generally Intelligent Podcast. Give it a listen.
Appointed to Biology
Postdoc, Hotchkiss Brain Institute, Calgary (2002)
Postdoc, Vrie Universiteit Amsterdam (1998)
PhD, University of Alberta (1998)
BSc, University of Saskatchewan (1992)
Dr. Spafford's laboratory focuses on analyses of voltage-gated calcium channels. Calcium channels participate in essential brain functions, such as synaptic transmission, neuronal plasticity, patterned nerve activity underlying rhythmic behaviours, outgrowth of neurons and synapse formation. Calcium channels are excellent drug targets for treatment of pain, arrhythmias, angina, and potential benefits in treatment of epilepsy and cancer.
Techniques used in the Spafford lab include: single channel and whole-cell recording of channels and neurons; pre- and post- synaptic recording using sharp microelectrodes; transfection and analyses of in vitro expressed channels in human cell lines; isolation, and culture of in vitro identified synapses and networks; recording of intact neural networks underlying behavior; fluorescent tracking of proteins in developing synapses; ratiometric imaging using calcium-sensitive dyes; analyses of site-directed mutagenized and chimeric channels; study of protein-protein interactions using biochemistry.
Major projects in Dr. Spafford's lab focus on the: a) cellular and molecular mechanisms underlying calcium channel expression and localization in developing synapses; b) modulation of calcium channel function by G proteins, phosphorylation and synaptic proteins; c) isolation and characterization of anti-calcium channel toxins for caveolin 1 (Cav1), Cav2 and Cav3 calcium channels.