Neuroscientists Hyungbae Kwon, PhD and Hiroki Taniguchi, PhD will join the The Max Planck Florida Institute as research group leaders. With the addition of Drs. Kwon and Taniguchi, MPFI will have eight research groups, each dedicated to investigating different aspects of the structure and function of neural circuits. One of the ultimate challenges in biology is to understand neural circuits, which form the complex synaptic networks of the brain and determine who we are, how we think, and how we behave.
Dr. Kwon joins MPFI from the Department of Neurobiology at Harvard Medical School, where he served as a post-doctoral fellow in the laboratory of Dr. Bernardo Sabatini, a Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator. Dr. Taniguchi comes to the Institute from Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, where he was a research investigator in the lab of Dr. Z. Josh Huang.
Dr. Taniguchi’s research probes the cellular and molecular mechanisms that are responsible for the development of neural circuits in the cerebral cortex, the largest and most complex area of the brain, whose proper function is critical for sensory perception, motor control, and cognition. He is highly regarded in the field for pioneering work that has made it possible to target molecular probes to specific classes of neurons in the cerebral cortex that utilize the inhibitory neurotransmitter GABA. This discovery has opened the door to a broad range of experiments that will make it possible to analyze the structure, function and development of GABAergic neurons, and to use this information to address a host of neurological and psychiatric disorders. Among other scientific goals, Dr. Taniguchi plans to work collaboratively with colleagues at Max Planck Florida Institute to expand his studies of GABA neurons and their roles in regulating the activity of circuits in cerebral cortex.