Jason Newbern

Home Faculty Jason Newbern
School of Life Sciences

My research is focused on the biochemical and cellular mechanisms that direct the formation of the brain and spinal cord. We rely upon a wide range of genetic, cellular, and molecular techniques to investigate the role of protein kinase pathways in developing neurons and glia. We are particularly interested in a related group of human neurodevelopmental syndromes that are caused by abnormalities in the activation of a protein known as ‘ERK/MAP kinase’. Neurofibromatosis Type 1, Noonan-, and CFC-Syndrome are the most common syndromes in this group. In addition, recent work suggests ERK/MAP kinase may be involved in certain autism spectrum disorders and schizophrenia. We are currently focused on defining precisely how ERK/MAP kinase dysfunction leads to defects in neuronal circuit development and connectivity. The laboratory utilizes genetically-modified mice, high-resolution microscopy, viral vector tracing, cell-based assays, pharmacological manipulations, next-generation sequencing, and behavioral assessments to explore ERK/MAP kinase functions in the brain. We are also investigating strategies to reverse pathological ERK/MAP kinase activity and associated effects with the goal of promoting neurological recovery.