Edmund Au, PhD
Department of Pathology and Cell Biology
Education and Training:
- 2007-present: Canadian Institutes of Health Research, Research Fellowship
- 2005-2015: Postdoctoral Fellow, NYU School of Medicine
- 2001-2005: Multiple Sclerosis Society of Canada, Studentship
- 1999-2005: Ph.D. in Neuroscience, University of British Columbia, Canada
Current or Past Study:
I am interested in understanding how cortical interneuron diversity arises, especially how progenitor lineage specification is determined at the molecular level. To that end, I have developed a murine ES cell platform to systematically identify molecular determinants of cortical interneuron fate (Au et al., 2013). By employing an in utero transplantation technique pioneered by the lab (ultrasound guided backscatter microscopy), ES-derived interneurons can be engrafted into the embryonic brain and develop normally, allowing for postnatal analysis.
More recently I have been examining the role of a non-canonical Wnt pathway on the establishment of heterogeneity across the progenitor domains that give rise to cortical interneurons. We have evidence to suggest that this process helps underlie the fundamental delineation between the two main interneuron subtypes – PV+ and SST+ (manuscript in preparation).
Additionally, I am also interested the process of development and maturation of interneurons, particularly when this process goes awry and leads to human disease. In collaboration with Theo Karayannis, I have been studying the role of a presynaptic structural protein, Cntnap4, which is enriched in PV+ interneurons. Decreased levels of Cntnap4 result in aberant synaptic transmission and there is growing evidence that CNTNAP4 may be a risk gene for psychiatric illness (Karayannis, Au et al., 2014).