F Rob Jackson
I maintain an active research lab but am not accepting new dissertation students. I also remain actively engaged in teaching and mentoring.
Research in the Jackson lab is currently focused on defining the neural circuits mediating behavior. We are particularly interested in glial-neuron communication and its relevance to behavior, with a special emphasis on sleep and circadian behavior. Genetic or environmental insults affecting the circadian system result in alterations of sleep, seasonal depression and other neurological disorders. Our lab employs classical genetic approaches combined with genome-wide expression profiling, cellular imaging and behavioral studies to understand the neural circuitry controlling rhythmic behaviors. We have shown that glial astrocytes of the Drosophila brain are critical for normal rhythmicity and that they regulate the circadian neuronal circuitry (Suh and Jackson, 2007); Ng et al, 2011, 2015, 2016. In recent studies, we have performed genome-wide translational profiling of adult fly astrocytes (Huang et al, 2015; Ng et al, 2016) and conducted RNA interference (RNAi)-based genetic screens to identify specific glial factors that are required for circadian behavior or sleep. The genetic studies demonstrated that glial secretion mechanisms are critical for normal rhythmicity (reviewed in Jackson, et al 2015)and revealed a number of glial proteins that regulate sleep or circadian behavior. Our work is currently focused on understanding the neural circuits and cellular pathways through which such glial factors regulate behavior.