Assistant Investigator, The Feinstein Institute for Medical Research
Head, Laboratory of Translational Neuroscience, Center for Psychiatric Neuroscience,
Zucker Hillside Hospital, Psychiatry Research
Phone: (516) 562-1466
Dr. Chang leads the Laboratory of Translational Neuroscience and is an Assistant Investigator at The Feinstein Institute for Medical Research. He is a neuroscientist interested in the pathophysiology underlying psychiatric disorders, such as schizophrenia.
Dr. Chang completed his graduate training at New York University’s Center for Neural Science with a focus on neurophysiology and animal behavior in the lab of Dr. Patricio T. Huerta. His studies at NYU focused on electrophysiological and microstructural deficits in genetically modified (knock-in and knock-out) mouse models of Alzheimer’s disease. Following graduate school, Dr. Chang was a Goldsmith Research Fellow at the Burke Medical Research Institute, a research campus of Weill Cornell Medical College.
Currently, Dr. Chang is utilizing a broad range of techniques that include state-of-the-art molecular manipulations, whole-brain tissue clearing, two-photon laser scanning microscopy, and a battery of behavioral tasks to investigate the functional roles of identified schizophrenia risk genes. Working with Dr. Anil Malhotra at the Zucker Hillside Hospital, he hopes to reveal how polymorphisms and variations in the genome contribute to the pathobiology of schizophrenia.
Schizophrenia is a highly heritable, disabling brain disorder that affects 1-2% of the world population and is the third leading cause of disability amongst people aged 15-44 in the U.S. Aside from some identified genetic risk factors, the underlying biology of the disorder is not well understood. In particular, what specifically goes wrong within the brain to cause the collection of negative, positive, and cognitive symptoms in schizophrenia is not clear. Thus, one aim of the Laboratory of Translational Neuroscience is to capitalize on recent advances in technology and understanding within the field of neuroscience, and apply them to challenges within psychiatry.
Through a combination of molecular biology and neuroscience techniques, the research group examines the impact of schizophrenia risk genes on a number of levels including mRNA expression in brain tissue, protein labeling and quantification, and whole-brain imaging of immunostained targets in mouse models. Innovative tissue clearing approaches are implemented to allow for brain-wide analyses of neural elements, such as axon-related proteins or specific neurotransmitter receptors. This technology, when coupled with laser microscopy, allows for three-dimensional mapping of mammalian neural circuits on multiple important biological scales.
The functional effect(s) of schizophrenia-related gene mutations in mice is examined using a collection of behavioral tasks, including novel object recognition, open-field, tail-suspension, elevated plus maze, social interaction, and the T-maze test. These assessments test for locomotion differences, anxiety, despair, novelty recognition, sociability, and working memory. Individuals with schizophrenia frequently have impairments in several of these behavioral and cognitive domains.
The ultimate objective in combining these genetic and neuroscientific approaches is to identify causal associations between genomic variation and the symptoms of schizophrenia. As research in the field progresses towards “biological psychiatry”, the hope is that novel therapies, drug targets, and biomarkers will emerge based on the biological processes underlying these disabling brain disorders.
Burke Medical Research Institute, Weill Cornell Medical College, White Plains, NY
Field of Study: Neurophysiology of Disease Models
New York University (NYU), New York, NY
Field of Study: Neural Science
University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA), Los Angeles, CA
Field of Study: Neuroscience
2014 ACNP Meeting Hot Topics selection
2012 Federation of Clinical Immunology Societies (FOCIS) Travel Award
2008 Goldsmith Foundation Research Fellowship
2005 Glenn Foundation, AFAR Scholarship for Research in the Biology of Aging
2004 Dean’s Student Travel Grant, NYU
1999 Departmental Honors in Neuroscience, UCLA
1999 Vice Provost’s Award for Undergraduate Research, UCLA