Mazahir T. Hasan
Ikerbasque Research Professor
Science Park of the UPV/EHU
Sede Building, 3rd floor, Barrio Sarriena, s/n
E-48940 Leioa Spain
I completed my undergraduate degree in Chemistry/Biology at Boston University (USA), PhD in Biochemistry at Dartmouth College (USA) and postdoctoral training in synthetic biology with a Nobel Laureate Prof. Susumu Tonegawa at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (USA). Later, I was a group leader at the Max Planck Institute for Medical Research in Heidelberg (Germany) and Charite Medical University in Berlin (Germany).
My lab harnesses the power of synthetic biology to understand cognitive processes, motor behavior and disease mechanisms. We are developing an “integrated systems approach” to investigate the role of key players of brain circuits (neuron types and glia types), the extracellular matrix, including the perineuronal net and the vascular system. These components are crucial for inter- and extracellular communication and the organization of the “pentapartite” synapse (pre/post synaptic compartments, astrocytes processes, vascular cells and ECM), that interconnects the entire brain.
Major technological advances have been made by our lab for functional mapping of microcircuits and manipulation of brain-wide circuits. For example, my team and collaborators are the first to demonstrate the application of genetically-encoded calcium indicators in mapping sensory experience brain activity in the brain (PLoS Biol. 2004;2(6):e163) with single cell and single action potential resolution (Nat Methods. 2008;5(9):797-804) and in freely moving mammals (Front Neural Circuits. 2010;4:9). We also provided first evidence that memory formation takes place in the cortex, not the hippocampus (Nat Commun. 2013;4:2258) and developed a novel genetic method for virus-delivered Genetic Activity-induced Tagging of cell Ensembles (vGATE) (Neuron. 2019;103(1):133-146.e8) and virus-delivered INducible SIlencing of Synaptic Transmission (vINSIST) (Cereb Cortex. 2020;bhaa225), that have enables the manipulation of selective brain circuits in controlling learning and memory processes and behavior. Supported by the BRAIN Initiative grant awarded to us, we are developing new technologies for “integrated” full brain scale activity mapping by magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). We are also developing novel genetic methods for “real-time” full brain scale activity mapping by MRI. Our goal is to identity brain-wide “pathological” circuits and perform targeted brain circuit therapeutics (Mol Ther Nucleic Acids. 2016;5(4):e309). We are developing and applying genetic, protein-, lipid- and programmed cellular-based strategies for protection and treatment of neurological and psychiatric diseases in animal models, with potential to treat human diseases in the future.
I believe in diversity and internationalization of science across all cultures and nations. For this reason, we founded a non-profit organization, The Science Bridge, that is supported by scientists from around the world. It is a science-driven mission for world peace and prosperity (Neuron. 2017;96(4):730-735).