The Pak lab is interested in human brain development especially in the context of synapses, which are the functional and mature units of neuronal communication in the brain. We use innovative tools in stem cell biology and state-of-the-art neurobiology techniques to understand the molecular and cellular mechanisms governing synapse formation and function during normal development. We are also actively investigating how these processes are misregulated in the formation and manifestation of neuropsychiatric diseases, such as intellectual disability, autism spectrum disorders, and schizophrenia, which are considered synaptic disorders.
To this end, we are currently interested in two major areas:
1. Developing novel tools to better model human synaptic development.
2. Understanding the normal functions of synaptic cell adhesion molecules and their signaling partners and how are they misregulated in disease states.
To do this, we take a multidisciplinary approach including, human pluripotent stem cell derived neural cells, genome engineering, patient derived iPSCs, synaptic biology, cell and molecular biology.
- PhD, Emory University School of Medicine
- Postdoctoral Research, Standford University School of Medicine