Lonnie P. Wollmuth
Lonnie Wollmuth attended Portland State University and received a B.A. degree in 1983 and an M.S. degree in 1988. In 1992 he earned a Ph.D. in Physiology and Biophysics from the University of Washington, Seattle working under Dr. Bertil Hille. From 1993 to 1998, Dr. Wollmuth was a Senior Fellow in the Division of Cell Physiology at the Max Planck Institute for Medical Research working with Professor Dr. Bert Sakmann and was a Human Frontier Science Program Fellow from 1993-1995 and an Alexander von Humboldt Fellow from 1996-1997. In 1998, Dr. Wollmuth joined the faculty in the Department of Neurobiology and Behavior at the State University of New York at Stony Brook as an Assistant Professor. In 1999-2002 he received an Alexandrine and Alexander Sinsheimer Scholars Award. He was promoted to Associate Professor with tenure in 2003 and Full Professor in 2009. He has served as Director of the Graduate Program in Neuroscience at Stony Brook since 2006. Professor Wollmuth is a member of the Center for Nervous System Disorders at Stony Brook University and is a member of the Society for Neuroscience and the Biophysical Society.
Research in my laboratory addresses fundamental mechanisms underlying fast synaptic
transmission in the brain, focusing on those synapses that use glutamate as a neurotransmitter.
Synapses are specialized structures that control the flow of information between cells
in the brain. Since glutamate is the major excitatory neurotransmitter in the human
brain, synapses that use this neurotransmitter are fundamental to all brain functions
and, when dysfunctional, are associated with numerous neurodevelopmental, neurologic,
and psychiatric disorders. Glutamate receptors are ligand-gated ion channels that
convert the chemical signal glutamate into an electrical and biochemical signal detected
by the postsynaptic neuron. These receptors, notably the NMDA and AMPA receptor subtypes,
display a variety of molecular and biophysical properties that contribute to their
versatility and prominence in fast synaptic transmission. We are interested in the
molecular, biophysical and physiological mechanisms of glutamate receptor function.
This work extends from understanding the molecular structures of glutamate receptors
and associated proteins to how the dynamics of glutamatergic synapses contribute to
networks of interconnected neurons where we study these issues in the zebrafish retina
and brain. We are also interested in dysfunction in glutamate receptor signaling that
are associated with disease including disease-associated missense mutations and anti-NMDA
receptor autoantibodies in lupus. Since we want to understand the details, our approach
is molecular and cellular in orientation and highly quantitative.