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Lab Spotlight: Shai Berlin, NMDA Receptors, and Labeled Toxins

Shining the spotlight on the work from Shai Berlin’s lab investigating synaptic plasticity and NMDA receptors.

There’s some wonderful work happening in the world of neuroscience, especially when it comes to new technology to study things like NMDA receptors (NMDARs) in neurodegenerative disease. One of the labs at the forefront of this work is headed by Shai Berlin at the Technion in Israel.

Shai and his multidisciplinary team have developed state-of-the-art genetic and opto-chemical methods that allow them to control, image, and monitor neurons. This gives them the incredible capacity to explore novel aspects of synaptic plasticity and its role in diseases of the brain. Their work has covered NMDAR characterization, genetically encoded fluorescent probes, and some brilliant multimodal imaging agents.

We caught up with Shai to learn a little more about his research and use of labeled toxins. Toxins that have been conjugated to a reporter (like a fluorophore for example) offer some very unique benefits – like exquisite selectivity, nanomolar affinity, no need to fix samples – and can even be used alongside antibodies.


If you’d like to see what else has been going on in Shai’s lab – or even find out about research opportunities – head over to Shai’s website.

Labeled toxins

Tools to study NMDA receptors