Faculty in Biology
Kerry Delaney, Professor & Chair
Chair Office: CUNN 202c Phone: 250-721-7091
Teaching: Neurobiology, Animal Behaviour.
Mechanisms of Synaptic Transmission and Plasticity, Olfactory Bulb: Cellular and Network Analysis
Our laboratory is primarily interested in synaptic physiology. We combine a variety of electrophysiological and optical techniques which include whole cell patch clamp, sharp microelectrode and field potential recordings combined with Ca2+ imaging techniques using widefield CCD, photomultiplier based spot measurements or 2-photon laser scanning microscopy. Thanks to generous support from the Michael Smith Foundation for Health Research and ICORD we have a pair of two 2-photon microscopes suitable for in vivo imaging and electrophysiology in small animals (rats, mice and frogs) and for mammalian brain slice and isolated frog/turtle brains.
CIHR supported research includes projects that integrate synaptic physiology and electrophysiological properties of neurons into a network level framework to understand the temporal spatial dynamics that underlie neural processing of sensory signals by the olfactory bulb. We use a novel in vitro nose-brain preparation that allows physiological experiments to be performed in a system where normal patterns of sensory input can be activated by application of odours to the nose. The work involves whole cell patch clamping and field potential recordings combined with imaging Ca2+ in dendrites and/or nerve terminals in frog olfactory bulb during stimulation of olfactory epithelia with odours. Studies are also performed using electrophysiology combined with 2-photon imaging of neurons in mouse brain slices with current focus on the distribution and function of low threshold transient Ca2+ channels in mitral cells.
NSERC supported research focuses on the control of neurotransmitter release from synapses, in particular the role of active zone geometry and single Ca2+ channel function in regulating release and activity dependent facilitation. Much of this work is performed using the frog neuromuscular junction as a model.
We are also studying neuronal morphology and Thy-1 gene expression in brains of mice lacking functional MECP2 gene. MECP2 protein binds to methylated DNA and acts as a transcription repressor to control several genes required for normal development. Loss of function in this gene is the cause of Rett's syndrome a neurodevelopmental disorder leading to severe cognitive deficits and other systemic dysfunctions primarily in female children. We have crossed these mice with two lines of mice that express YFP in subsets of cortical neurons to facilitate analysis of neuronal morphologies associated with the Rett phenotype to better evaluate the success (or failure) or lentiviral based transfection protocols. Another project related to Rett's syndrome(CIHR funded) aims to develop an implantable stimulation device suitable for mice to activate vagal nerve afferent fibers as a possible means of enhancing cortical development. This micro-engineering project is a collaborative effort with Dr. Nigel Livingston and his CanAssist group at UVic.