2013 Freedman Prize Honorable Mention: Hiroki Taniguchi, Ph.D.

2013 Freedman Prize Honorable Mention: Hiroki Taniguchi, Ph.D.

Posted: July 26, 2013

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2009 NARSAD Young Investigator Grant: Role of GAD67 and GABA Signaling in the Development of Chandelier Cell Synapses at the Axon Initial Segments in the Mouse Frontal Cortex


Hiroki Taniguchi, Ph.D., is a Research Group Leader at the Max Planck Florida Institute for Neuroscience. He studies nerve cells that inhibit activity in the brain and the cellular and molecular events underlying psychiatric diseases that involve inhibitory neuronal circuits, specifically dysfunction in the GABAergic system. The GABAergic system regulates the neurotransmitter GABA which has been implicated in schizophrenia and autism.

GABAergic neurons are very diverse. Unraveling their development and function has been extremely difficult due to the lack of reliable strategies to manipulate the various neuronal subtypes. Postmortem brains of schizophrenia patients show changes in a class of GABAergic neurons called chandelier cells. In his 2009 NARSAD Grant research, Dr. Taniguchi and colleagues developed the first genetically engineered mouse model in order to identify the spatial and temporal origins of chandelier cells, as well as strategies to study their life cycle, from development to function, in both normal and abnormal brains.

The results of this research have now made it possible to examine the hypothesis that selective deficits in GABAergic chandelier cells disrupt function in other cells called pyramidal neurons, leading to dysfunction in working memory, a condition typical of schizophrenia. These results open the way to asking many questions about the development and diversified functions of GABAergic neurons.

A graduate of Osaka University, Dr. Taniguchi earned a Ph.D. in developmental neurobiology from the National Institute for Basic Biology in Japan, where he also did postdoctoral research. He conducted his NARSAD Grant project as a Research Investigator at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory in New York. He received his current appointment, at the Max Planck Florida Institute in Neuroscience in 2011.

“The NARSAD Young Investigator Grant given by the Brain & Behavior Research Foundation was the very first grant I received after I moved to the U.S.  Thanks to this opportunity I was able to make significant scientific achievements, which resulted in publication in high-profile journals, appointment to a faculty position and other grant funding.”

Learn more about the Freedman Prize