Sacha Nelson is the Gyula and Katica Tauber Professor of Life Science and a member of the Volen Center for Complex Systems at Brandeis University. He received B.A. and B.S. degrees from Brown University and an M.D. and Ph.D. from the University of California, San Diego. He joined the faculty in 1994 after a postdoctoral fellowship at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. His research focuses on understanding the cell types and circuits that comprise the mammalian neocortex, and how these circuits are altered by normal experience and during disorders such as autism spectrum disorders and epilepsy.
In 1998, he and Gina Turrigiano discovered a form of homeostatic plasticity called synaptic scaling. Recently, his work has suggested that homeostatic plasticity mechanisms can at times be maladaptive. This was first suggested from studies of the developmental disorder Rett syndrome, in which reduced cortical activity can paradoxically lead to increased risk of epilepsy.
In addition to physiological studies of synaptic plasticity, much of the work in the Nelson lab over the past decade has focused on understanding cell-type diversity through genetic screens and the use of genome-wide profiling techniques in mice.