Research in the Banghart lab involves two intertwined themes: neuromodulatory mechanisms and molecular tool development.
Several questions of interest include:
We address these questions in the mammalian basal ganglia, a collection of neural circuits that rely heavily on neuromodulators to mediate decision-making, goal-oriented movements and behavioral reinforcement. Our experimental approach utilizes contemporary genetically-targeted neuroanatomical methods, whole-cell electrophysiology, two-photon imaging and rodent behavioral analysis, often in conjunction with optogenetic and chemical-genetic perturbations. To facilitate these efforts, we develop novel molecular tools for observing and manipulating neuromodulatory activity with an emphasis on photoactivatable (or caged) neurotransmitters, optical sensors and genetically-targeted pharmacological probes.
Matt Banghart obtained his Ph.D. in Chemistry from UC Berkeley and pursued postdoctoral training in the Department of Neurobiology at Harvard Medical School with Bernardo Sabatini. Matt was a Helen Hay Whitney Postdoctoral Fellow and the recipient of a K99/R00 Pathway to Independence Award from NIDA. He is currently establishing his independent research laboratory at UCSD.