Dr. Emre Yaksi was born on March 13, 1978 in Turkey. He received his B.Sc. (2001) in Molecular Biology at Middle East Technical University, Ankara-Turkey. He obtained his PhD (2007) in the laboratory of Dr. Rainer Friedrich at Max Planck Institute for Medical Research, Heidelberg-Germany. He worked as a post-doctoral fellow (2007-2010) in Dr Rachel Wilson’s laboratory at Harvard Medical School, Boston-USA. He leads his research team at NERF since December 2010 and appointed as an assistant professor at KU Leuven since October 2011. On January 2015, Dr Yaksi is moving to Kavli Institute for Systems Neuroscience-NTNU in Trondheim, Norway together with the team.
Our laboratory is mixture of enthusiastic life scientist, physicists and engineers, whose goal is to understand the fundamental principles underlying the function of brain circuits in health and disease. In order to achieve this aim, we use genetically tractable small model organisms, zebrafish and fruitfly. We monitor, dissect and perturb these tiny brains, through a combination of functional imaging, optogenetics, electrophysiological recordings, molecular genetics and quantitative behavioral assays.
Our primary goal is to understand how chemosensory world (smell and taste) is represented in the brain and how these computations regulate different behaviorals (e.g. fear, arousal, feeding). Moreover, we are interested in understanding how these representations are modulated by behavioral states of animals (e.g, stress and hunger) or other senses (e.g. vision). We achieve this by focusing on those brain areas that integrate information from multiple sensory modalities and closely relate to behavior (e.g. habenula, brainstem). Small and accessible brain of zebrafish provides an exceptional framework for studying the neural circuit computations both locally and across multiple brain regions simultaneously.
Moreover, a small core in our laboratory is applying systems neuroscience tools for studying neural circuit function and architecture to study zebrafish and fruitfly models of neurological diseases. On the long term, we expect that our work on the neural computations will inspire scientist not only to simulate and imitate brain circuits in silico, but also comprehend neural mechanisms underlying neurological conditions such as stress, anxiety, eating disorders or neurodegenerative diseases and inspire the development of novel therapies.