Jason Newbern

Home Faculty Jason Newbern
Department: 
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.