Philippe Mourrain is an associate professor at Stanford University, where he leads a team focused on synaptic changes occurring during pathological (fragile X syndrome and autism) and normal (sleep) behaviors in mouse and zebra-fish models. His laboratory’s main goals are to understand the role of sleep at the synapse and how synaptic deficits are responsible for behavioral and cognitive impairment in neurodevelopmental diseases such as autism.
Over the past years Mourrain’s team has developed new approaches and imaging tools to uncover synaptic abnormalities in the zebra fish and mouse brains, and successfully applied them to a mouse model of fragile X syndrome (FXS). These subsynaptic and synapse population level methodologies are now mature enough to be applied to more heterogeneous models of autism and should allow Mourrain and his colleagues to uncover some of the convergent molecular synaptic deficits shared by ASDs.
In addition to his work on synapse/circuit in mouse and zebra fish brains, Mourrain also received a very strong education in molecular genetics (bacteria, yeast, zebra fish, mouse) and gene silencing/epigenetics (arabidopsis, tobacco). This former education allows him to grasp the genetic complexity underpinning autism spectrum disorder (ASD), and makes him ideally suited to investigate complex synaptic changes in different genetic models of ASD.