Wollmuth Hsieh
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Wollmuth Hsieh Home

Home page for Wollmuth and Hsieh Lab

Mechanisms and Dynamics of Fast Synaptic Transmission: from the Dish to the Brain

Molecular Mechanisms of Fast Synaptic Transmission and Neuronal Circuit Development

Synapses are specialized structures that control the flow of information between neurons in the brain. Alterations in synaptic transmission and plasticity contribute to numerous neurological and psychiatric diseases, such as autism, epilepsy and schizophrenia.  Research in our group addresses mechanisms underlying fast synaptic transmission in the brain, focusing on those synapses that use glutamate or GABA as a neurotransmitter. This work spans many levels of nervous system function.  We address molecular structures and energetics of ion channel gating in ionotropic glutamate receptors as well as the cell biology of these receptors.  We analyze how disease-associated mutations in ionotropic glutamate receptors lead to clinical pathologies. We address how modulation of GABAergic signaling affects functional and local circuit development.  To accomplish our goals, we use a variety of approaches, from high-resolution single channel recordings to optogenetics.  Because we care about mechanisms, our work is always quantitative and detailed in orientation.

Available positions...

We are always seeking outstanding graduate students and post-doctoral fellows for our group.  Please Contact Us.


Congrats to...

  • Johansen Amin for defending his PhD thesis!!

  • Camillo Ferrer for 1st author publication in Journal of Neurophysiology!!

  • Johansen Amin for 1st author publication in Nature Communications!!

  • Camillo Ferrer for defending his PhD thesis!!

  • Michael Liu for winning a Summer URECA!

  • Kelvin Chan for getting his NRSA!

  • Johansen Amin for getting the cover of JGP!



Center of Molecular Medicine
New York, NY 11794-5230

➤ e-mail


  • Phone (Lonnie) 631.632.4186

  • Phone (Lab) 631.632.4406

  • Fax 631.632.6661

Areas of Research

Structure-function of ionotropic glutamate receptors

 Ionotropic glutamate receptors are ligand-gated ion channels that are fundamental to nearly all brain functions.  We are interested in understanding the energetic coupling between agonist binding and ion channel opening, and how, once the channel is open, ions including Ca2+ flow through the membrane.  We are also interested in how de novo missense mutations affect these processes.

Molecular dynamics of ribbon synapses in the retina [Continuation of work initiated by Dr, Gary G. Matthews]

Ribbon synapses carry out specialized function in sensory systems and share certain molecular features with conventional synapses.  We are interested in understanding the basic mechanism of vesicle fusion and recycling and the specialized role ribbon synapses play in sensory dynamics.  

Role of GABAergic signaling in circuit development

Similar to ionotropic glutamate receptors, ionotropic GABA receptors are ligand gated ion channels found throughout the central nervous system.  By modulating the balance of excitation and inhibition during development, interneurons play an important role in the development of cortical circuits. Ultimately, we are interested in how early modulation of the GABAergic system affects circuit maturation. 


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Cell biology of ionotropic glutamate receptors

The subunit composition of ionotropic glutamate receptors including auxiliary subunits is an important determinant of synaptic plasticity and cell health.  We are interested in defining the rules of subunit composition and how this might be regulated in a dynamic fashion during synaptic plasticity.  We are also interested in how intracellular ionotropic glutamate receptors impact cell health.

Our labs are part of The Center for Nervous System Disorder

Basic insights today leading to the clinical solutions of tomorrow...

Other investigators include: 

  • Simon Halegoua, Center Director

  • Kevin Czaplinski

  • Joshua Plotkin

  • Lorna Role, Chair of the Department of Neurobiology & Behavior

  • David Talmage

Center for Molecular Medicine