Dr. Charles Lee
Comparative Biomedical Sciences (CBS)
I was born and raised in Flagstaff, Arizona and graduated as valedictorian from Flagstaff High School. While still in high school, I concurrently attended Northern Arizona University, where I completed the chemistry major course requirements and conducted research on photoconductive organic polymer systems. Thereafter, I attended the California Institute of Technology, where I was a member of Lloyd House and graduated with honors in chemistry and biology. For graduate school at the University of California at Berkeley, I worked under the mentorship of the late Prof. Jeffery A. Winer. My dissertation focused on the functional organization of convergent neural circuits in the auditory forebrain. Afterwards, I received an NIH Kirschstein NRSA Fellowship to work with Prof. S. Murray Sherman at the University of Chicago, where I was a Research Associate (Assistant Professor). Since 2011, I have been on the faculty at the LSU School of Veterinary Medicine.
I am currently the coordinator of the Year 1 DVM curriculum and also teach and coordinate the Veterinary Neuroscience course (VMED 5171). In addition, I teach in the graduate molecular and cell biology course (CBS 7104) and coordinated the department journal club (CBS 7003). I also produce and host a syndicated science radio program, The Groks Science Show, which is heard locally on WHYR 96.9 FM and nationally through the Public Radio Exchange (PRX).
My laboratory is interested in understanding the neural principles underlying the sensory and cognitive functions of the brain using the central auditory system as a model. We study the anatomical circuits and the physiological properties of sensory synapses in the midbrain, thalamus, and cortex by recording from neurons in response to pharmacological activation, electrical stimulation, optogenetic manipulation, or photostimulation by uncaging of glutamate. Morphological correlates are sought using neuroanatomical methods, such as anterograde and retrograde tract-tracing, cell-type specific viral tracers, and intracellular filling of recorded neurons. From our studies, we wish to derive the rules governing the emergent properties of neuronal ensembles and their roles in regulating behavior.
My research also addresses how alterations to these central sensory pathways give rise to various mental health disorders. In particular, we are focusing on the neural circuit basis of autism spectrum disorder and schizophrenia. Our long-term objectives are to understand how aberrant neural circuit organization results in the emergent core behavioral deficits observed in these conditions. We expect that this research will illuminate the potentially important role of these neural networks in these conditions and as prospective therapeutic targets.