This fiscal year, we continued to make good progress in setting up and staffing the laboratory. There are currently four (4) members of the lab including the Principal Investigator (Travis Hage, postdoctoral fellow;Rahilla Tarfa, graduate fellow;and Renshu Sherry Zhang, research technician). Both Dr. Hage and Ms. Tarfa are performing studies that are focused on excitability and synaptic integration in midbrain dopamine neurons. One of the first joining members of the lab, Allison Girasole, recently completed her Post-Baccalaureate IRTA fellowship this summer. She is currently starting her first year of graduate school at a top neuroscience program, UCSF. This summer, we hosted a high school student, Garland Kennedy, who completed a project and presented a poster of his work at the 2013 NIH Summer Poster Day. For future staffing, we have identified and successfully hired a second postdoctoral fellow, Rebekah Evans, who will be joining the lab in January 2014. We are also in the process of hiring Post-Baccalaureate IRTA who should be starting soon as well. We have expanded our experimental capabilities as well. We have continued to refine our patch-clamp setups, adding additional LED light sources which we use for optogenetics experiments. We have also been approved to perform intracranial injections in mice. Using this procedure, we have been able to retrogradely label particular cell populations. In addition, we have been successful in expressing of the light-activated protein, channelrhodopsin, in two brain nuclei that are of interest. In parallel with this strategy, we are using several Cre mouse lines to target expression to genetically-defined cell types. Including our Cre lines, we are currently breeding 11 mouse lines. One of these lines is a novel conditional knockout mouse, and the founders for this line were generated in the NIMH Transgenic Core Facility with the help of Dr. James Pickel. We are also participating in collaborative projects with Dr. Ellen Sidransky (NIH) and with Dr. Marie-France Martin-Eauclaire (Aix Marseille Universite).

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