Funded, postdoctoral fellowship opportunities are available to study how neurons and synapses maintain stable function through homeostatic signaling. Postdocs will be in the lab of C. Andrew Frank at the Carver College of Medicine at the University of Iowa (Iowa City, IA).
Forms of homeostatic plasticity endow neurons and circuits with an ability to maintain physiologically appropriate levels of synaptic output. Broken control of neuronal circuit function is hypothesized to contribute to conditions such as epilepsy and ataxia, as well as to complex neurodevelopmental disorders like autism. Yet the molecular signals that direct the homeostatic control of synaptic outputs are poorly defined. We address this gap genetically by utilizing a model synapse, the glutamatergic Drosophila melanogaster neuromuscular junction (NMJ).
In the Frank lab, we have conducted genetic screens and identified several factors and signaling systems that work to sustain homeostatic plasticity at the NMJ over long periods of developmental time. A short-term goal is to elucidate how these newly identified factors work in concert at the NMJ. A complementary aim of the lab is to utilize Drosophila as a 'reverse translational' model for mutations known to cause neurological disorders in humans. Our long-term objective is to combine the robust tools of genetics and electrophysiology to uncover universal signaling systems that work to maintain proper levels of synaptic output. Postdoctoral fellows in the lab will gain skill sets in valuable areas including: electrophysiology and analysis, genetics, molecular neuroscience, and synapse imaging.
The University of Iowa is strong in many disciplines including neuroscience, and there are over 80 research-active neuroscientists on the faculty. There is also a fantastic interdisciplinary Neuroscience graduate program and seminar series. Iowa City, Iowa is a dynamic, university-oriented town of about 80,000 people, with active undergraduate, graduate, medical school, and healthcare communities. Iowa City boasts a low cost of living, highly-regarded year-round art and cultural events as well as Big Ten sporting events. Average daily commute times are 5-20 minutes, including excellent public transportation and scenic biking options.