Francisco Urbano

Francisco Urbano

Fellow: Awarded 2011
Field of Study: Neuroscience

Competition: Latin America & Caribbean

Universidad de Buenos Aires; CONICET

My research career grew out of an education in fields ranging from biochemistry/molecular biology to experimental neurophysiology. My varied experience across fields and across different experimental techniques (cell culture, electrophysiology, neuromuscular junction, brain slices, and imaging) has been always motivated by my interests in  how the brain as a whole can process and store information from the environment, in health and disease. Understanding how to design an appropriate experimental study that can partially model brain function and allow me to answer some of these large questions has been a major theme in my research during the past several years.

After presenting my Ph.D. thesis in the Autonomous University of Madrid (Spain), I began my postdoctoral training at the laboratory of Prof. Osvaldo D. Uchitel (University of Buenos Aires, Argentina). I had the privilege of learning synaptic physiology using the classical neuromuscular junction preparation in one of the most prestigious labs in the field. Then, I continued work with some of the world’s great neuroscientists, such as R. R. Llinas, M.D., Ph.D., Chair of Neuroscience at NYU; R.W. Tsien, Ph.D., Stanford University; and E. Garcia-Rill, Ph.D., Director, Center for Translational Neuroscience at University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences. I am now in a position to develop an independent research career at the University of Buenos Aires. Since 2007, our group was able to describe alterations of the intrinsic properties of thalamocortical neurons and GABAergic transmission after acute repetitive cocaine administration. Our findings suggested the presence of over-inhibition of thalamic nuclei under the influence of cocaine, due to over-expression of T-type calcium channels. We are confident that pursuing basic neuroscience research will give rise to pharmacological tools in a near future to prevent and/or arrest the deleterious effects of psychostimulant intake on thalamocortical networks.

Profile photograph by Diana Martínez Llaser.

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