The Sombers Lab is an interdisciplinary group comprising researchers from Chemistry, Biochemistry, Engineering, Biology and Physics. Our research focuses on the development, characterization, optimization, and application of analytical techniques to study neurochemical changes in living brain tissue.
This environment presents an extreme analytical challenge because zeptomole quantities of neuroactive molecules must be detected in a chemically complex sample while disturbing the tissue as little as possible. Furthermore, a neurotransmitter’s dynamics in the extracellular space must be measured with significant selectivity to ensure that the response is unequivocally due to a specific molecule, and with high time resolution in order for its precise role in the execution of meaningful behavior to be investigated.
Our research utilizes various electrochemical techniques including amperometry and background subtracted fast-scan cyclic voltammetry, coupled with principal component regression of the data to objectively distinguish individual chemical components. Our ability to make complex biological measurements in behaving animals not only distinguishes us from most analytical chemists (who are limited to in vitro measurements that have the potential be applied in vivo), but it also allows us to make significant advances in the field of Neuroscience.