How Nature and Nurture Conspire to Control Brain Development and Function

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The Detlev W. Bronk Alumni Lecture

Event Details

Michael Greenberg, Ph.D., department chair and Nathan Marsh Pusey Professor of Neurobiology, Harvard Medical School

Dr. Greenberg’s research seeks to understand how neuronal activity controls gene transcription to affect critical steps in synapse and neural circuit development. In addition to providing insight into the process of brain development, this research has contributed to the understanding of neurological diseases in which these processes have gone awry. This work began in 1984 with the discovery that growth factors induce the rapid and transient expression of a family of genes, Immediate Early Genes (IEGs) such as c-fos, whose functions are crucial for neuronal differentiation, cell survival, and adaptive responses. Dr. Greenberg’s recent studies have used genomics to identify neuronal transcripts and cis-regulatory enhancer elements that respond to changes in synaptic activity, uncovering an activity-responsive transcriptional program that regulates the complexity of the dendritic arbor, the development of excitatory and inhibitory synapses, the composition of protein complexes at the pre- and post-synaptic sites, and the production of neuropeptides that control neural circuit development. Understanding how these neuronal activity-dependent gene programs function may provide insight into how the dysregulation of this process leads to neurological diseases and, ultimately, may suggest therapies for treatment of disorders of cognitive function.

Michael E. Greenberg is the chair of the department of neurobiology and the Nathan Marsh Pusey Professor of Neurobiology at Harvard Medical School. He received his Ph.D. from the Rockefeller University in 1982 and carried out his postdoctoral research at New York University Medical Center. After joining the faculty at Harvard Medical School in 1986, Dr. Greenberg served first as the founding director of the F.M. Kirby Neurobiology Center at Boston Children’s Hospital and since 2008 as chair of the department of neurobiology at Harvard Medical School.

Justin Sloboda
(212) 327-7785

Open to
Leslie Vosshall, Ph.D.
Refreshments, 3:15 p.m. - 3:45 p.m., Abby Lounge
Justin Sloboda
(212) 327-7785

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