Anna Molofsky, MD, PhD

Assistant Professor
Psychiatry
415-502-3609

Astrocytes in neural circuit formation and function

Astrocytes, the most numerous cells in the brain, are increasingly implicated in neurodevelopment and disease. Our lab studies astrocyte-neuron interactions at the molecular level by identifying novel astrocyte-encoded genes and studying their functional role in circuit and synapse formation during development.  The finding that astrocytes are heterogeneous based on their location in the central nervous system provides a powerful tool to begin to identify novel astrocyte-encoded genes, and explore their functions in the developing nervous system. Using circuits in the developing spinal cord and other CNS regions, we study the role of specific astrocyte-encoded proteins on neuronal positioning, neuronal survival, and synapse formation. We are also interested in how astrocytes communicate with microglia to regulate synapse number and circuit function, and may serve as agents of the innate immune system in the brain. These types of molecular studies will form a basis for understanding the role of astrocytes in psychiatric diseases of neural circuit formation, including schizophrenia, autism, and others.

Current Projects

  • Astrocyte-encoded positional cues in developmental synapse formation
  • Astrocyte-microglial communication and the innate immune system in neural circuit development
  • Expression profiling of regionally heterogeneous forebrain astrocytes in postnatal development

Lab Members
check our website for the latest roster​

Hiromi Inoue
Lab Manager
hiromi.inoue@ucsf.edu

Leah Dorman
Neuroscience Graduate Student
leah.dorman@ucsf.edu

Elliot Chien
Undergraduate Researcher
elliot.chien@ucsf.edu

Gregory Chin
Undergraduate Researcher
gregory.chin2@ucsf.edu

Lab Website