Structural Biology Featured Scientist
Nisha Gopal, PhD Student, Brunger Laboratory
I study the structure and function of the vesicular GABA transporter (VGAT). VGAT is a protein that sits on the membrane of synaptic vesicles in inhibitory GABA releasing nerve terminals. It functions to pump GABA into vesicle against their concentration gradient, so that quantal GABA release is able to occur during an action potential. VGAT is a really important candidate for drug targeting for treating neurological diseases like depression, anxiety, schizophrenia, and more, but we lack significant structural and functional info about it. As such, I am working on purifying VGAT from native mouse brain tissue and using single particle CryoEM in order to solve the structure and hopefully gain meaningful mechanistic insights.
When I'm not in lab I love going salsa dancing in the Bay Area - I love being part of the really vibrant latin dance community and its an awesome escape from the stressors of grad school. I also love hanging out with my husband - we love to cook, watch movies, travel, and more.