Frances K Skinner

Frances K Skinner, PhD

Oscillations and dynamic behaviours produced by neuronal circuits are being examined in the context of several neurological diseases today. Indeed, abnormalities in brain circuits and their activities are recognized as a place to focus in untangling brain disorders.  Moreover, it is clear that cellular aspects of circuits need to be included in these examinations as specific cell types have been associated with network dysfunction and neurological disease. Computational models of neurological disease are being developed and these network models necessarily become large and complex when cellular aspects are included. A mechanistic understanding, as can be brought about by mathematical modeling and analyses, is needed. A major challenge is thus how best to bring together experimental, computational and theoretical studies to advance our understanding. 
This is the essence of my research program.

The work in my lab involves: (i) establishing intimate links with experimental studies to allow mathematical models with a neurological and pathophysiological functional basis to be developed, and (ii) simulating and analyzing developed mathematical models to enable insights and predictions to emerge. At present, we have a strong focus on the hippocampus, with a specialization on inhibitory GABAergic cells, and in the context of several physiologically relevant population activity outputs. This is being expanded to include the cortex. Inhibitory cells and networks have been found to play critical roles in learning and memory as well as in pathological conditions such as epilepsy, Alzheimer’s disease and schizophrenia. Our work is highly inter-disciplinary and collaborative by nature. 

Related Links

Hippocampus. 2009 Feb;19(2):152-65
Ho EC, Zhang L, Skinner FK
J Neurosci. 2006 Nov 22;26(47):12325-38
Lawrence JJ, Saraga F, Churchill JF, Statland JM, Travis KE, Skinner FK, McBain CJ
J Physiol. 2006 Oct 15;576(Pt 2):457-76
Wu CP, Huang HL, Asl MN, He JW, Gillis J, Skinner FK, Zhang L
J Neurophysiol. 2006 Mar;95(3):1669-82
Saraga F, Ng L, Skinner FK
J Neurosci Methods. 2005 Sep 30;147(2):99-113
Gillis JA, Luk WP, Zhang L, Skinner FK
J Comput Neurosci. 2005 Jun;18(3):343-52
Skinner FK, Bazzazi H, Campbell SA
J Neurophysiol. 2005 Jul;94(1):741-53
Wu C, Asl MN, Gillis J, Skinner FK, Zhang L
J Neurophysiol. 2005 Apr;93(4):1898-907
Skinner FK, Chung JY, Ncube I, Murray PA, Campbell SA



Professor, Division of Neurology, Department of Medicine, University of Toronto
Professor, Department of Physiology, University of Toronto