CSB Spotlight: Nakagawa Lab
Teru Nakagawa, professor of Molecular Physiology and Biophysics, serves as the scientific director for the CSB Cryo-EM facility, but he’s also very involved in other programs and centers, including the Molecular Biophysics Training Program, Interdisciplinary Graduate Program in Biomedical Sciences and the Vanderbilt Brain Institute. He also uses a diverse range of techniques to address scientific questions that interest him. Find out more about Dr. Nakagawa and his lab.
What projects does your lab currently work on? Molecular mechanism of synaptic plasticity, with a focus on structure and function of glutamate receptors
What are the primary tools and techniques you use to answer these questions? Cryo-EM and electrophysiology are the primary tools, but we actively use anything that is within our reach; Cryo-EM, electrophysiology, biochemistry, molecular biology, mouse genetic models, computation and cell biology.
What was your path to this position? What is your favorite part of being a PI? I was the first to visualize the brain glutamate receptors using single particle EM at a resolution of ~30Å, using a technique called cryo-negative staining back in 2005 when I was a postdoc. I kept studying the glutamate receptors. The cryo-EM technologies have advanced a lot since then and these days my lab is looking at these receptors at near atomic resolution. I continue to be very interested in making new discoveries about these receptors in the context of brain function. New interesting questions are constantly emerging, and it is an exciting field!
What are some fun lab activities you like to do? Skiing and beer
What do you think is the key to running a successful group? It’s not easy. Each member needs to enjoy and be motivated in doing the science.