Great science can't be done alone. We need the expertise, techniques, and vision of others from different disciplines.


Chris Richards Lab - University of Kentucky

We are a multidisciplinary group which focuses on the biophysical characterization of membrane receptors. We apply techniques ranging from single molecule imaging to the application of nanofabricated plasmonic devices for bioimaging in order to gain insight into the role of membrane receptors in disease and addiction. Learn more here.



Henry lester lab - California institute of technology

What happens in the body when a person smokes a cigarette? What happens after several weeks of smoking? Why do dopaminergic neruons degenerate when people develop Parkinson's disease? And why does smoking appear to lower the probability of a person developing Parkinson's disease? The Lester lab uses techniques at the intersection of biophysics, single-molecule imaging, chemistry, mouse genetics, and neuroscience to understand the biophysical basis of ligand-gated ion channels including the nicotinic acetylcholine receptor. Recently our lab has shifted from focusing on the immediate effects of nicotine binding to receptors on the surface of nerve cells to what happens when that nicotine infiltrates deep into the cell. 

Tingwei Mu lab - Case western reserve university


My laboratory aims to understand protein homeostasis (proteostasis) of ion channels. They are major drug targets; loss of their proteostasis and thus function leads to numerous diseases, including neurological, neurodegenerative, and cardiovascular diseases. To function, ion channel proteins need to fold into their native structures and assemble properly in the endoplasmic reticulum (ER) for subsequent trafficking to the plasma membrane in a fully functional state. Mutations in a given protein could lead to protein misfolding and excessive ER-associated degradation (ERAD), and thus a signicantly lowered concentration of proteins in cell membranes and loss of function. Currently, in my laboratory, we focus on studying gamma-aminobutyric acid type A (GABAA) receptors. They are the primary inhibiory ion channels in the mamalian central nervous systems. Loss of their function leads to epilepies, autisum, and other neurodevelopment diseases. We explore how molecular chaperones, folding enzymes, ERAD factors, and trafficking factors, coordinate to facilitate membrane proein folding, assembly, degradation and trafficking. We also use small molecule proteostasis regulators to correct misfolded membrane proteins, as a therapeutic strategy to treat corresponding diseases.

Funding Sources

K99/R00 DA040047 (PI - Henderson): 03/2015 - 05/2020

R21 DA046335 (PI - Henderson): 03/2016 - 07/2020

R01 NS105789 (PI - MU, CWRU): 08/2018 - 04/2023

SOM-SOP Collaborative Grant (PI - Henderson):

WV-INBRE NGS Grant (PI - Henderson): 08/2017 - 07/2018