The Vollum Institute extends a warm welcome to assistant professor/scientist Arpiar (Arpy) Saunders, Ph.D., who joined our faculty in October. Dr. Saunders’ research focuses on understanding how neurons choose their synaptic partners and how gene expression patterns of individual cells dictate their precise connectivity in complex neural circuits. While a Helen Hay Whitney Postdoctoral Fellow in Steve McCarroll’s lab, Arpy used single-cell RNA profiling to generate large-scale molecular descriptions of mouse brain cell diversity. He also developed new viral tools that enabled him to exploit the trans-synaptic movement of viruses, along with RNA barcoding and single-cell transcriptome analysis, to construct precise connectivity diagrams amongst brain cells for which detailed molecular information had also been ascertained. The Saunders lab will continue to use single-cell, single-virion approaches to explore the mechanistic bases of neural circuit connectivity, how synapses change with plasticity and disease, and also explore fascinating questions in basic viral biology, including how neurotropic viruses interact with diverse host brain cell types.
For more information please visit his research group’s website.