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Dorris Neuroscience Center

Ulrich Mueller, Ph.D.

Ulrich Mueller, Ph.D.

Professor, Department of Molecular and Cellular Neuroscience
Member Skaggs Institute for Chemical Biology

The Scripps Research Institute
Dorris Neuroscience Center, DNC222
10550 N. Torrey Pines Road
La Jolla, CA 92037
Phone: 858-784-7288
Fax: 858-784-7299

Complex interactions between genetic and environmental factors lie at the heart of many neurological and psychiatric disorders. My laboratory elucidates the mechanisms that regulate nervous system development and function and the genetic perturbations that cause disease.

One of our projects focuses on the molecular pathogenesis of deafness, the most common form of sensory impairment in humans. Approximately 1 in 500 children is born deaf and a large part of the human population is afflicted by age-related hearing loss. Genetic factors significantly contribute to disease development and affect onset and severity of age-related hearing loss. Capitalizing on recent advances in genome research, my laboratory identifies and studies genes that are linked to the human disease. Most of the genes that have been linked to hearing loss affect the function of hair cells, the sensory cells of the inner ear that convert mechanical stimuli into electrical signals to provide our sense of hearing. We study the mechanisms that regulate hair cell development and function, and how defects in our auditory sense organ cause congenital, progressive and age-related hearing loss.

A second project analyses the mechanisms and signaling pathways that regulate the development and function of the cerebral cortex, our seat of higher brain function where sensory information is integrated to create an internal representation of the external world. Defects in the cerebral cortex are associated with neurological and psychiatric disorders such as schizophrenia, autism spectrum disorder and depression. While psychiatric disorders tend to manifest later in life, developmental defects are thought to play an important role in the etiology of these diseases. Increasing evidenced suggests that genetic factors significantly affect disease onset, progression and severity. We therefore elucidate the genetic mechanisms that regulate the development of the cerebral cortex and how cortical defects cause disease. Many of these studies are carried out in animal models that might provide important tools for drug discovery.

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