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DEVELOPMENTAL NEUROBIOLOGY LAB

WHAT WE DO

Our lab studies the molecular mechanisms that underlie the formation of neural circuits, 

specifically studying the role of adhesion proteins in synapse formation and circuit development

in oligodendrocytes and neurons in the forebrain.

We study several developmental processes: 

1. Proliferation, migration, and differentiation of neurons and glia

2. Synapse formation & Function

3. Myelination

Check us out on Twitter or send an email!

 

RESEARCH PROJECTS

OLIGODENDROCYTE DEVELOPMENT AND MYELINATION

1. Is activity necessary for oligodendrocyte proliferation and differentiation?

2. Is myelination activity-dependent?

3. Is activity in neuronal- glial microcircuits instructive for myelination?

4. What is the role of ion channel function in OPC differentiation and in neuronal-glial microcircuits? 

5. Do mutations in synaptic adhesion proteins cause defects in neuronal-glial synapse formation and myelination?

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ABOUT

Laura Cocas is a developmental neurobiologist at Santa Clara University. She completed her PhD at Georgetown University in the Corbin lab studying the genetic regulation of cell fate in the basal forebrain.. She was then awarded a Fulbright Fellowship to research synapse formation using viral circuit tracing at the University of Basel, Switzerland in the Scheiffele Lab.  She continued her research  as a postdoctoral fellow at UCSF in the Pleasure Lab, using viral tools to probe developing cortical circuits and neural glial connections.


At Santa Clara University, she is a Principal Investigator examining neural circuit formation and myelination in the developing forebrain. 

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COCAS LAB

 
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LAURA COCAS, PHD

Principal Investigator
Santa Clara University

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DANIELA MOURA, PHD

Postdoctoral Fellow
Santa Clara University

MARY FRANCIS GARCIA

Neuroscience '23

Santa Clara University

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ISAAC TOSCANO

Neuroscience '23
Santa Clara University

CHRISTOPHER ARELLANO REYES

BIOLOGY '23

Santa Clara University

CHLOE FRANZIA

Biology '23

Santa Clara University

IRIS TILTON

Neuroscience '23

Santa Clara University

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ROBBY BROCK

Neuroscience '22

Santa Clara University

LAB ALUMNI

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DAVID TRAVER

Research Associate
Neurona

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TALIA MENEZES

Clinical Research Coordinator
Stanford University

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ATEHSA SAHAGUN

Graduate Student

UC Berkeley

Neuroscience

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 MAGNUS SANDBERG, PHD

Scientist II
Zai Lab

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ETHAN KAUFMAN

Bioengineering '21

Santa Clara University

EMMA BRENNAN

 Research Assistant

Washington University

 
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ANMOL JANDAUR

ALEKHYA PARVATHANENI

KAREN KIKUTA

Medical Assistant

Medical Student

University of Washington, St. Louis

Clinical Research Coordinator 

Stanford

TOOLS AND TECHNIQUES

How we find answers.

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We use genetic tools to alter gene expression in the neurons and glia of the embryonic cerebral cortex in vivo and in vitro, using electroporation, transgenic mice, and primary neuronal cultures.

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We use viral tools to label and map circuits in the developing cerebral cortex in vivo.

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We manipulate activity in neurons using electroporation of channel proteins as well as DREADDs and optogenetics.

 
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PUBLISHED WORK

 

CELL TYPE SPECIFIC MONOSYNAPTIC VIRAL CIRCUIT TRACING IN THE DEVELOPING BRAIN. IN A. POULOPOULOS

2017

Cocas, L., and Fernandez-Garcia, G. (2017). Cell Type Specific Monosynaptic Viral Circuit Tracing in the Developing Brain. In A. Poulopoulos, (Ed.), Methods in Molecular Biology: Synapse Development, vol. 1538. ISBN 978-1-4939-6688-2.

CELL TYPE SPECIFIC VIRAL CIRCUIT TRACING REVEALS NOVEL INSIGHTS INTO THE PRESYNAPTIC CONNECTIVITY OF DEVELOPING CORTICAL CIRCUITS.

2016

Cocas, L. A., Fernandez-Garcia, G., Doll, J., Zamora-Diaz, I., and Pleasure, S.J. (2016). Cell Type Specific Viral Circuit Tracing Reveals Novel Insights into the Presynaptic Connectivity of Developing Cortical Circuits. Journal of Neuroscience, 36 (11), 3378-90.

WRONG PLACE, WRONG TIME: ECTOPIC PROGENITORS CAUSE CORTICAL HETEROTOPIAS.

2014

Cocas, L., & Pleasure, S.J. Wrong place, wrong time: ectopic progenitors cause cortical heterotopias. Nature Neuroscience, 2014 Jun 25; 17(7): 894-5

PAX6 IS REQUIRED AT THE TELENCEPHALIC PALLIAL-SUBPALLIAL BOUNDARY FOR THE GENERATION OF NEURONAL DIVERSITY IN THE POST-NATAL LIMBIC SYSTEM.

2011

Cocas, L. A., Georgala, P. A., Mangin, J.-M., Clegg, J. M., Kessaris, N., Haydar, T., Gallo, V. Price, D. J., and Corbin, J. G. (2011). Pax6 is required at the telencephalic pallial-subpallial boundary for the generation of neuronal diversity in the post-natal limbic system. Journal of Neuroscience, 31 (14), 5313-24.

EARLY-BORN EMX1-LINEAGE PROGENITORS DIFFERENTIALLY CONTRIBUTE TO NEURAL DIVERSITY IN THE MATURE STRIATUM AND AMYGDALA.

2009

Cocas, L. A., Miyoshi, G., Carney, R.S., Sousa, V. M., Hirata, T., Jones, K., Fishell, G., Huntsman, M., and Corbin, J. G. (2009). Early-born Emx1-lineage progenitors differentially contribute to neural diversity in the mature striatum and amygdala. Journal of Neuroscience, 29, 15933-46.


2009

Cited in F1000: Richards L and Moldrich R: F1000Prime Recommendation of Evaluation [Cocas LA et al., J Neurosci 2009, 29(50):15933-46]. In F1000Prime, 03 Mar 2010; DOI: 10.3410/f.2274963.1895064. F1000Prime.com/2274963#eval1895064

IDENTIFICATION OF DISTINCT TELENCEPHALIC PROGENITOR POOLS FOR NEURONAL CELL DIVERSITY IN THE AMYGDALA.

2009

Hirata, T., Li, P., Lanuza, G. M., Cocas, L. A., Hunstman, M., and Corbin, J. G. (2009). Identification of distinct telencephalic progenitor pools for neuronal cell diversity in the amygdala. Nature Neuroscience, 12, 141-9.

DIFFERENTIAL REGULATION OF TELENCEPHALIC PALLIAL-SUBPALLIAL BOUNDARY PATTERNING BY PAX6 AND GSH2.

2008

Carney, R.S., Cocas, L.A., Hirata, T., Mansfield, K., and Corbin, J.G. (2008). Differential Regulation of Telencephalic Pallial-Subpallial Boundary Patterning by Pax6 and Gsh2. Cerebral Cortex, 19, 745-59.