Jen-Wei Lin

Assistant Professor of Biology, College of Arts & Sciences

Professor Lin’s main research focus is on the biophysical events underlying transmitter release. Neurotransmitter secretion involves ion channel gating, diffusion and buffering of calcium ions, vesicular fusion as well as the mobilization and recycling of, synaptic vesicles. He uses electrophysiological and imaging techniques to monitor processes underlying synaptic transmission at a high time resolution. He is currently focusing on mechanisms regulating the probability of transmitter release by comparing two classes of active zone residing in the same varicosity but with different release probabilities. Finally, since detailed events during the course of synaptic transmission happen at a sub-millisecond time scale and with nanometer spatial resolution, both of which are beyond the capability of current experimental techniques, he is using a mathematical modeling approach to gain insights to the behavior of calcium ions with sufficient resolution.

In addition to events occurring around the active zones, he also studies the excitability of axonal branches to gain insights into the interaction between axonal excitability and transmitter release. Professor Lin uses voltage sensitive dyes to investigate action potentials and subthreshold activities in fine axonal branches. This line of research is unique in that very few preparations allow measurement of membrane potential within such fine structures and at such a high time resolution. He is currently investigating how presynaptic inhibition changes the amplitude and duration of action potentials at fine branches and terminals.