Martha Constantine-Paton studied the formation and modification of synapses – the interconnections between neurons – in order to understand how experience shapes the wiring of the brain. By studying individual neurons in the visual system of developing animals, she showed that a class of molecules known as NMDA receptors plays an essential role in setting the strengths of synapses. NMDA receptors are thought to underlie many aspects of learning throughout life. Constantine-Paton also examined the role these receptors play in developmental disorders that have their origins in early life.
Constantine-Paton, a founding member of the McGovern Institute, is Emeritus Professor in the departments of Brain and Cognitive Sciences and Biology. She moved to MIT in 1999, having previously held professorships at Princeton University and later at Yale University where she was director of the Interdepartmental Neuroscience Program.
Honors and Awards
Member, American Academy of Arts and Sciences
Lifetime Achievement Award, Society for Neuroscience, 2012
Developmental loss of miniature N-methyl-D-aspartate receptor currents in NR2A knockout mice. Townsend, M., Yoshii, A., Mishina, M., Constantine-Paton, M. (2003).
Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 100, 1340-1345.
Bustos, FJ, Pandian, S, Haensgen, H, Zhao, JP, Strouf, H, Heidenreich, M et al.. Removal of a partial genomic duplication restores synaptic transmission and behavior in the MyosinVA mutant mouse Flailer. BMC Biol. 2023;21 (1):232. doi: 10.1186/s12915-023-01714-y. PubMed PMID:37957716 PubMed Central PMC10644554.
Ahumada-Marchant, C, Ancatén-Gonzalez, C, Haensgen, H, Arancibia, F, Brauer, B, Droste, R et al.. Deletion of VPS50 protein in mice brain impairs synaptic function and behavior. bioRxiv. 2023; :. doi: 10.1101/2023.07.04.547745. PubMed PMID:37461727 PubMed Central PMC10349947.
Bustos, FJ, Pandian, S, Haensgen, H, Zhao, JP, Strouf, H, Heidenreich, M et al.. Removal of a genomic duplication by double-nicking CRISPR restores synaptic transmission and behavior in the MyosinVA mutant mouse Flailer. bioRxiv. 2023; :. doi: 10.1101/2023.04.28.538685. PubMed PMID:37163068 PubMed Central PMC10168395.