Studying the cellular and molecular mechanisms of synaptogenesis

Synapses are sites that allow information to be passed between neurons and are essential for brain function. Their importance is highlighted by the fact that even minor synaptic abnormalities, caused by disease or neurotrauma, result in devastating neurological conditions. Understanding how CNS synapses are targeted, assembled and maintained is therefore essential to our understanding of neurological disorders.

Our lab is currently seeking to identify the cellular and molecular mechanisms that drive the initial targeting of synaptic partners to each other and the subsequent differentiation of these partners into functional synapses. Many (but not all) of these studies on the mammalian visual system, and more specifically connections between the retina and brain. We also are beginning to investigate how synapses and circuits are maintained in the mammalian brain following infection and trauma.

hippo copy

Right Panel: Inhibitory nerve terminals (green) synapsing onto a cultured hippocampal neuron (red). Left Panel: Biplor cell synapses (green) in the inner plexiform layer of the mouse retina. Horizontal and amacrine cells are labeled red. Cholinergic synapses are labeled blue.


 Contact information :

Lab Address:

Virginia Tech Carilion Research Institute
2 Riverside Circle, Roanoke, VA 24016
Phone: 540-526-2050


This page does not reflect an official position of Virginia Tech or Virginia Tech Carilion Research Institute Questions or comments should be directed to Dr. Michael Fox (