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Laboratory of Molecular Neurobiology

Our primary goal is to achieve a better understanding of the neural circuits that drive goal-directed behaviors, reward learning, & movement. We focus on glutamate and dopamine neurotransmission to and from midbrain neurons of particular importance to mental illness, including drug addiction, schizophrenia, and Parkinson’s Disease. Our core approaches leverage the power of modern 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.

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 mouse models
  • Viral-mediated gene transfer
  • Optogenetics
  • Behavioral analyses
  • Patch-clamp electrophysiology
  • Immunohistochemistry & Microscopy
  • Transport assays
  • Neuronal tract tracing
  • Cell culture