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Thomas C. Foster, Ph.D.

Foster TomProfessor & Evelyn F. McKnight Chair for Research on Cognitive Aging and Memory

Department of Neuroscience
University of Florida
1149 Newell Drive
PO Box 100244
Gainesville, FL  32611-0244

Office Phone:  (352) 273-5093
Lab Phone:      (352) 392-6863

Education:          Lab Members:          Publications:

Key Words:    Memory; Aging; Synaptic Plasticity; Gene Regulation

Research Summary:

Attention and memory difficulties increase with advancing age. These problems are associated with changes in metabolism, which alters the function of brain cells and makes them vulnerable to damage.  The two main goals of the lab are to identify mechanisms for age-related memory impairment and to test treatments to alleviate memory deficits.

Research Focus & Aims:

My research program utilizes a combination of behavioral characterization with biochemical, molecular, and electrophysiological techniques to obtain a vertically integrated perspective on neural aging, from the molecular to the cognitive level. Synaptic plasticity is thought to mediate the associative and information storage properties of neurons, and intracellular Ca2+ levels occupy a pivotal position in regulating synaptic plasticity by determining whether synaptic strength increases or decreases in response to neuronal activation. Changes in synaptic strength involve biochemical cascades and ultimately changes in gene regulation. Our research examines age-related changes in these signaling cascades from synaptic plasticity to transcription and the effect of treatments (behavioral and pharmacological therapies, viral vector delivery) on memory and biomarkers of brain aging.  I am currently the principal investigator on two grants from the National Institute of Aging, which includes a MERIT award.