David B. Jaffe, Ph.D.
Phone: (210) 458-5843
Ph.D. in Neuroscience; Baylor College of Medicine
M.S. in Physiology; Duke University
B.A. in Biochemistry; University of Texas at Austin
B.S. in Zoology; University of Texas at Austin
Research in Dr. Jaffe's lab focuses on how individual neurons and networks of neurons process information. Their work primarily focuses on the hippocampal formation, a region of the brain important for the acquisition and consolidation of declarative information (i.e. facts and events) and one that is impacted early in Alzheimer’s disease. Using a combination of electrophysiological, optogenetic, imaging, and computational approaches, the lab is currently studying how communication from the cortex is filtered through the dentate gyrus on its way into the hippocampus, and how this impacts mechanisms associated with the replay of newly encoded information during memory consolidation. The lab is also investigating how this circuit is involved in seizures and the development of epilepsy, and how seizure-induced changes in membrane ion channels (i.e. channelopathies) contribute to epileptogenesis.
A second area of interest is how pain information is regulated by the dorsal root ganglion. The "gate theory" proposes that pain information is filtered within the spinal cord; when the gates are open, pain messages flow freely and pain can be intense. When the gates are closed, pain messages are prevented from reaching the brain and may not even be experienced. As part of an international collaboration, the lab has found that the dorsal root ganglion (DRG) that lies before the spinal cord can actively filter pain information. Because the DRG is part of the peripheral nervous system, and not the central nervous system, it presents an important target for the therapeutic control of pain.
The effects of stress on hippocampal function uses a combination of in vitro and in vivo electrophysiological (whole cell recording and extracellular field recording, respectively), along with chemogenetic and imaging approaches. How BK channels affect the excitability of dentate gyrus granule neurons are studied using electrophysiological analysis and biophysical computer modeling.