Kevin Bender is an associate professor in the Department of Neurology at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF). His laboratory is interested in understanding how neurons encode information, with a particular focus on cellular mechanisms that mediate and modulate neuronal excitability. They employ a variety of electrophysiological, optical, computational and genetic techniques to probe information processing across neuronal compartments, and test how these processes are altered in neurological disorders, including autism spectrum disorder (ASD).
In collaboration with Stephan Sanders’ lab at UCSF, the Bender lab has worked to understand how genetic mutations in SCN2A give rise to a range of neurodevelopmental disorders, including seizures of varying severity, developmental delay and ASD. More recently, his laboratory has explored how haploinsufficiency, or the loss of one functional copy, of Scn2a affects cellular and network activity in mouse models. Currently, the Bender lab is working with Nadav Ahituv’s lab to determine if and when haploinsufficiency in Scn2a can be restored to rescue normal neuronal function using CRISPR-activation-based approaches.