Erik Ullian, PhD

Assistant Professor of 
Ophthalmology

Erik Ullian is a neuroscientist who studies how nerve cells connect.

At his laboratory at the Koret Vision Center at UCSF, Ullian now studies the conditions under which synapses, or connections between nerve cells, are formed in the brain. Using transgenic mice, he is investigating how connections between neurons can be established and modified when nerve cells fire, and when they exchange bits of genetic material.

He also studies an unexpected factor: astrocytes, star-shaped support cells previously thought to be only gap-fillers in the brain, now known to guide how nerve cells connect. Using stem cells from individuals on the autism spectrum, combined with new imaging technologies, Dr. Ullian is studying the impact of these support cells on how synapses form in the autistic brain. His research may have an impact on our understanding of numerous diseases of the brain.

Dr. Ullian completed his postdoctoral fellowship at Stanford University.