PhD, 2014, University of California, Berkeley
BS, 2009, American University
Membrane signaling proteins provide the molecular basis for many neurological functions and the pathophysiology of many neurological and neuropsychiatric diseases. However, it remains a major challenge to fully elucidate the dynamic molecular processes of their assembly and function and to interpret those properties in the context of cellular, synaptic, circuit, and behavioral function. G protein-coupled receptors (GPCRs), which serve as the largest family of drug targets in biology, provide a particular challenge because of their complex activation and signaling properties, expression patterns, and diverse roles in neurophysiology and behavior. The Levitz lab uses high-resolution optical and chemical methods, including development of chemical optogenetic tools and single molecule fluorescence-based assays, to elucidate the fundamental biophysical processes that drive receptor function and to gain a deeper understanding of the role of individual receptors and downstream effectors in synapse function and disease.