David Sweatt, Ph.D.

Research description

I have had a career-long interest in biochemical mechanisms of learning and memory.  In addition, my research program also investigates mechanisms of learning and memory disorders, such as mental retardation, aging-related memory dysfunction, and PTSD.  Currently my research program focuses on molecular biological mechanisms underlying learning and memory.  The laboratory uses knockout and transgenic mice to investigate signal transduction mechanisms in the hippocampus, a brain region known to be critical for higher-order memory formation in animals and humans.  The laboratory also uses a large number of genetically engineered mouse models for human learning and memory disorders in order to investigate the molecular and cellular basis of human memory dysfunction.  The laboratory has discovered a number of new roles and mechanisms of gene regulation in memory formation, focusing on studies of transcription factors, regulators of chromatin structure, and other epigenetic mechanisms such as chemical modification of DNA.  Overall my work seeks to understand the role of regulation of gene expression in synaptic plasticity and long-term memory formation and storage.  As part of the McKnight Brain Institute, my laboratory also is interested in using what we have learned about the molecular basis of hippocampal synaptic plasticity and memory formation to generate insights into human pathological conditions associated with aging-related memory dysfunction.  In summary, for the past 25 years I have focused my efforts on studies of hippocampal synaptic plasticity and behavioral learning and memory in the intact animal, using a multidisciplinary approach combining molecular biology, biochemistry, electrophysiology, and animal behavior.  I feel that my expertise and experience have prepared me and my laboratory to contribute significantly to mentoring students as part of the Beckman Scholars program.

Email: dsweatt@uab.edu