Dr. Cai joined the department of Neuroscience at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in 2017 as an Assistant Professor. Her lab focuses on basic learning and memory mechanisms as well as their disorders. She obtained her PhD in Experimental Psychology & Behavioral Neuroscience from the University of California, San Diego, where she studied the role of sleep in memory in humans and mice. Pror to joining the faculty at Mount Sinai, Dr. Cai was a postdoctoral fellow at the University of California, Los Angeles, where her research focused on how memories are formed and linked across time. She was also was one of the lead developers of Miniscopes, an open-source miniature microscope system for calcium imaging in freely behaving animals. At the Icahn School of Medicine, Dr. Cai's team investigates the temporal dynamics of how memories are formed, integrated and separated. In addition, her team studies how aging contributes to cognitive decline. Her lab leverages a multi-level approach, including in vivo imaging, activity-dependent tagging, optogenetics, chemogenetics and behavioral assays.
Multi-Disciplinary Training Area
PhD, University of California, San Diego
Mount Sinai Distinguished Scholar Award
Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai
Optogenetics GRC, Vice Chair, 2020 and Chair, 2022
NIMH Research Grant (R01)
NIH Director’s New Innovator Award
McKnight Memory and Cognitive Disorder Award
NARSAD Young Investigator Award
Brain Research Foundation Award
Klingenstein-Simons Fellowship Award
Friedman Brain Scholar Award
Outstanding Teaching Award
Icahn School of Medicince at Mount Sinai
Botanical Center Pilot Award
Allen Institute Next Generation Leader
One Mind Otsuka Rising Star Award
Arnold Scheibel Distinguished Postdoctoral Fellow
University of California, Los Angeles
Ruth L. Kirschstein Post-Doctoral National Research Service Award
National Institute of Mental Health
Chancellor’s Interdisciplinary Collaboratory Award
University of California, San Diego
If we live long enough, will our brains one day simply “max out” and run out of room, and if not, why not? Are memories formed and stored differently in the brain as we age? How does the way in which memories are linked over time affect what we remember? What role does sleep play in linking memories across time?
These are some of the captivating—and complex— questions about learning and memory we’re exploring in our lab. We use a multi-level approach integrating molecular, cellular, circuit-level, and behavioral techniques to investigate the dynamic nature of memory. Our primary research themes include memory capacity, temporal memory-linking, and sleep and memory. We’re studying the strategies the brain uses to optimize its capacity for storage; how prior learning influences future behavior; and why emotions may alter memories while we sleep. Building and sharing novel tools and technologies to help answer these and evolving questions in neuroscience is an exciting part of our lab’s work. We’re passionate about the open-source movement and committed to building a collaborative and generous neuroscience community.
Behavior, In Vivo Imaging, Learning & Memory, Cognitive Disorders, Hippocampus, Age-related Cognitive Deficits, Anxiety-related Disorders, Optogenetics, Chemogenetics, Activity-dependent Tagging
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Dr.Cai did not report having any of the following types of financial relationships with industry during 2019 and/or 2020: consulting, scientific advisory board, industry-sponsored lectures, service on Board of Directors, participation on industry-sponsored committees, equity ownership valued at greater than 5% of a publicly traded company or any value in a privately held company. Please note that this information may differ from information posted on corporate sites due to timing or classification differences.
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