The LMB is delighted to announce the arrival of Radu Aricescu to the LMB’s Neurobiology Division, where he will be working on the structural analysis of neurotransmitter receptors, trans-synaptic protein complexes and neuronal synapses. Chemical synapses, junctions between two neurons, are of crucial importance for all aspects of brain function. Synapses modulate the architecture and strength of neuronal circuits and are fundamental to the ability of the brain to acquire and store information. Loss or dysfunction of synapses are linked with a range of neurological and psychiatric disorders, including autism and dementia.
To improve the mechanistic understanding of synaptic function, Radu’s group aims to solve structures of the key neurotransmitter receptors at excitatory and inhibitory synapses, in isolation and in complex with interacting proteins, using X-ray crystallography and single particle cryo electron microscopy. Radu’s group will also work on establishing methods for the analysis of synaptic receptors and their supra-molecular complexes within model neuronal synapses, by cryo electron tomography. The long-term goal of the group is to define, in structural and mechanistic detail, key events in the ‘life cycle’ of synapses, from synapse formation and maturation to mechanisms of plasticity and synaptic repair.
Radu added, “Our research is tackling big questions about synaptic function, and the LMB is the ideal place where one can pursue such long-term goals. The cryo electron microscopy facilities and expertise at the LMB are world-class, and will be of huge value to my group in our quest to ultimately determine the molecular mechanisms of neurotransmission in a physiological context. Before joining the LMB I collaborated successfully with Ingo Greger’s group and I am excited to establish further connections with other research groups here.”
Radu completed his undergraduate and MSc training in biology and molecular biology at the University of Bucharest, Romania, before undertaking a PhD in Developmental Neurobiology at University College London. He spent time as a postdoctoral researcher in structural biology at the University of Oxford and remained there as an MRC Senior Research Fellow and Professor of Molecular Neuroscience, before joining the LMB.