Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania

Minghong Ma Lab

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Welcome!

Research Interests

We are interested in how the brain perceives sensory information and responds appropriately using the mouse olfactory system as a model. Rodents primarily use olfactory cues to guide their behaviors (e.g., locating food, communicating with conspecifics, and avoiding danger). Odor detection relies on a large family (~1200 in mice) of G-protein coupled odorant receptors (ORs) expressed in olfactory sensory neurons (OSNs) in the nose. OSNs transmit sensory information to the olfactory bulb (the first relay station in the brain), which projects to several olfactory cortical and subcortical regions. Some OSNs serve dual functions as odor detectors and mechanical sensors, thus the olfactory system carries both the odor information and nasal breathing signal into the brain. Our current investigation focuses on how the olfactory system interacts with non-olfactory regions (e.g., the prefrontal cortex and striatum) to influence the brain activity and behavioral output. Since olfactory dysfunction is manifested in neuropsychiatric and neurodegenerative disorders, we are also interested in analyzing the olfactory system and related circuits in diseased states.

Research Techniques

optogenetics, electrophysiology, fiber photometry, neural circuit tracing, mouse behavior, CRISPR-cas9 gene editing, immunohistochemistry, molecular biology

Funding Supports

NIH (NIDCD, NIDA) and NSF

Join Us!

We welcome inquiries and applications from prospective students and postdocs. Please contact minghong@pennmedicine.upenn.edu.