Karen Zito, Center for Neuroscience, University of California Davis, USA
Ion flux-independent NMDA receptor signaling in bidirectional synaptic plasticity and disease
Karen Zito is Professor of Neurobiology, Physiology & Behavior in the Center for Neuroscience at the University of California Davis. Research in the Zito laboratory is focused on investigating how neural circuit connections are formed during development, and how they are refined by experience and altered in disease. Specifically, we have been investigating the cellular and molecular mechanisms that regulate the growth, stabilization, functional maturation, and elimination of dendritic spines and their associated synapses in health and disease. We address these questions primarily through live-imaging approaches of neurons in brain slices using two-photon microscopy, combined with molecular genetic manipulations and electrophysiology. Dr. Zito earned her B.S. from Indiana University where she worked with Dr. Norman Pace on catalytic RNAs, her Ph.D. from UC Berkeley where she worked with Drs. Corey Goodman and Ehud Isacoff on the development of the Drosophila neuromuscular junction, and she did her postdoctoral training at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory in New York where she worked with Dr. Karel Svoboda on the development and plasticity of mammalian central synapses.