Closing date: Open until filled
Location: Salt Lake City, USA
The Shepherd lab is seeking to recruit multiple postdoctoral fellows that will be fully funded. They are seeking innovative scientists who thrive in a multidisciplinary intellectual environment. The lab utilizes coordinated biochemical, cell biological, electrophysiological and imaging studies in vitro and in vivo, including state of the art techniques that range from in vivo two-photon microscopy in live animals to cryo-electron microscopy of protein complexes.
We recently discovered a novel mechanism of neuronal communication that resembles the life-cycle of retroviruses (https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0092867417315040). The neuronal gene Arc, a master regulator of synaptic plasticity and memory, contains a Gag retroviral homology domain that has conserved secondary structure with HIV-1 that is derived from a distinct family of retrotransposons. Arc protein self-assembles into viral-like capsids that are released from cells and carry RNA/proteins to neighboring cells. Our findings open up a new area of investigation in the cell biology of cell-to-cell communication, by revealing that some retrotransposon-derived genes retain the ability to form capsids that shuttle RNAs and proteins between cells. Ongoing projects in the lab aim to dissect this new intercellular pathway in health and disease that intersects diverse fields of biology that include virology, extracellular communication, evolutionary biology, gene delivery and neuroscience.
Other Projects in the Lab
The synaptic engram - how networks of cells encode, store and retrieve information
How experience sculpts the brain, using in vivo 2-photon imaging in the visual cortex
The synaptic dysfunction that underlies neurological disorders, including Alzheimer's Disease and autism spectrum disorders
Trafficking of neurotransmitter receptors at synapses
Salt Lake City
There is a growing and vibrant neuroscience community at the University of Utah, with an excellent quality of life. Nestled in the Wasatch mountains, Salt Lake City offers both cultural (Sundance Film festival) and outdoor recreation (over 5 world class ski resorts with 30 minutes and 5 National Parks) activities.