Dr. Steve Mennerick is a Professor of Psychiatry and Anatomy and Neurobiology at Washington University in St. Louis. He received his PhD in Neurosciences from Washington University in St. Louis and completed a postdoctoral fellowship at the State University of New York Stony Brook. Steve has received many awards and honors during his career, including the Klingenstein Award in the Neurosciences, a NARSAD Young Investigator Award, and a Graduate Student Mentorship Award. Steve is here with us today to tell us about his journey through life and science.
The broad aim of Steve’s research is to understand control of neuronal excitation and inhibition by neurotransmitters in the central nervous system. This is an important goal because neurotransmitter actions can be double-edged, underlying normal neurotransmission on the one hand and underlying dysfunction and neurotoxicity on the other. One project his lab is exploring the cellular and synaptic responses to powerful neuromodulators that affect inhibition and excitation. These molecules may modulate normal and abnormal brain function endogenously but also represent targets for novel therapeutic approaches. Another project investigates the effect that astrocytes, a class of glial cell, have on neuronal development and function. Finally, Steve’s lab has been engineering a biosensor for the neurotransmitter dopamine, allowing them a unique perspective on the control of dopamine release. Steve uses electrophysiological, molecular, and imaging techniques applied to simple culture preparations, to heterologous expression systems, and to intact brain slices.