The goal of our laboratory is to reconstruct the origin and evolution of synaptic proteins. We use choanoflagellates, the closest living relatives of animals, sponges, basal animals with no synapses and neurons, and ctenophores, basal animals with synapses and neurons, as model organisms. We aim to understand when the proteins required for synaptic activity first evolved, how they functioned at a molecular level and which combinations of synaptic proteins resulted in the origin of the synapse.

Current research is supported by the Anne Warner Fund.