Chen awarded two Scialog grants to study the molecular basis of cognition

Yao Chen

Yao Chen, an assistant professor of neuroscience at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, is part of two teams that have been awarded grants to study the molecular processes that underlie memory and cognition. The grants are part of the “Research Corporation for Science Advancement’s Scialog: Molecular Basis of Cognition” initiative. The initiative aims to accelerate breakthroughs by funding collaborative, cross-disciplinary, high-risk/high-reward projects. 

Chen studies how neuromodulators such as dopamine regulate behavior and influence sleep and learning. Altered neuromodulation is associated with most psychiatric disorders, and neuromodulatory systems are targets of nearly all drugs of abuse. For one of the Scialog projects, she and Michael Economo of Boston University will investigate the molecular mechanisms of memory formation. The other grant funds a project with Lucas Pinto of Northwestern University and Benjamin Scott of Boston University to use imaging to understand how neuromodulation occurs over multiple time scales.