New technologies for Molecular Neurobiology

Paul Heppenstall

Amount of frontal teaching:
15 hours

In the last fifteen years, increasingly sophisticated molecular genetic tools have been developed which allow for accurate monitoring and perturbation of the nervous system. The Molecular Neurobiology course gives an introduction to these technologies, focusing on how they were discovered, how they work, and how to use them. The course covers the following topics:

  1. Genome editing and CRISPR: Here I give an overview of genome editing technologies. This is followed by an interactive practical class in which a CRISPR experiment is designed. New CRISPR technologies are then discussed in a journal club.  
  2. Controlling neuronal activity with optogenetics and chemogenetics: A summary of the principals of optical and chemical methods for manipulating neuronal activity is given. This is followed by a journal club discussing recent advances in these methods.
  3. Monitoring neuronal activity with genetically encoded sensors and indicators: An introduction to the biophysical principles of genetically encoded activity probes is given. We then discuss recent advances in a journal club, before benchmarking state of the art probes in a laboratory experiment.
  4. Gene delivery using viral vectors. Background in gene delivery technology is given. Recent advances in the field are then discussed in a journal club.
  5. Emerging technologies: Recent breakthrough technologies that have emerged in the previous year are discussed in a journal club.  



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