Dr. Edward Ruthazer studies the development of topographic maps in the brain at the systems, cellular and molecular levels. In particular, he is interested in the influence of neural activity and early experience on the morphology and connectivity of the individual neurons that make up these neural maps. Individual axonal and dendritic branches in the intact brain are constantly remodeling throughout development. Using in vivo time lapse two-photon imaging of single neurons in the retinotectal system of Xenopus tadpoles and the visual cortex of rodents, his laboratory is able to observe the development of CNS connections in the intact, living animal.
Combining specific molecular and pharmacological manipulations with in vivo imaging is a powerful approach to unraveling the intracellular and intercellular signaling pathways involved in the formation and refinement of connections between brain regions. In addition to studying these key events and molecular players in CNS development, the lab is also interested in developing novel imaging and electrophysiology techniques for the study of neuronal connectivity and intracellular signaling.