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Laboratory of Neural Circuits & Behavioral Control

We aim to understand the neural circuits that underlie motivated behaviors and behavioral control. We use molecular genetic tools and mouse models to visualize, manipulate, or control discrete neural circuit elements so that we may better define their roles in physiology, behavior & disease. We focus on glutamate and dopamine neurotransmission and co-transmission in mesolimbic and basal ganglia circuits of particular import to neuropsychiatric illness, including drug addiction and Parkinson’s disease.

Research Opportunities

  • Predoctoral: Opportunities are available for UCSD undergraduates who are encouraged to participate via the BISP199 course credit mechanism. It is expected that students will contribute in lab for 12-20 hours per week. Contact Dr. Hnasko directly by email and provide a short statement of interests, resume, and transcripts.
  • Graduate: Students may join the lab via the UCSD Neurosciences and BMS graduate programs. Masters students are accepted through the contiguous BS/MS Biological Sciences program. Contact Dr. Hnasko as soon as feasible to discuss a prospective laboratory rotation.
  • Postdoctoral: Candidates should contact Dr. Hnasko to inquire and letter should include candidates background, future goals, and interests. Competitive candidates will have at least one first-author publication and be competitive for postdoctoral fellowships.

Techniques & Approaches

  • Generation of genetically modified mice and viral vectors
  • Optogenetics
  • Behavioral assays
  • Patch-clamp electrophysiology
  • Fiber photometry
  • Immunohistochemistry & microscopy
  • Transport assays
  • Neuronal tract tracing
  • Cell culture