B.Eng (SGWU); MSc (Surrey); PhD (McMaster)
Research in the Cooper lab focuses on activity-dependent mechanisms that govern the rearrangement and function of synapses as neural circuits become established during early postnatal life. Our projects address 2 main issues: One is to understand how activity influences the formation of connections between preganglionic terminals and postganglionic sympathetic neurons in the superior cervical ganglion (SCG) of wild type and mutant mice.
The second project addresses a new concept for diabetic autonomic neuropathies. We are investigating the idea that these diabetic-induced dysautonomias results, in part, from a synaptic defect and our work points to the ganglionic nAChRs as targets of hyperglycemia-induced downstream signals.
Our experiments use interdisciplinary approaches that combine different molecular and cellular techniques, such as: electrophysiology, cellular imaging, quantitative PCR, viral-mediated gene transfer techniques. In addition, we are developing a new mouse model to investigate the role of synaptic activity in the formation of functional neural circuits. The Cooper lab gratefully acknowledges funding from CIHR, JDRF and HSFC.