The overall goal of the Millard lab is to understand how specificity is generated in the brain. This problem is best exemplified by considering that 100 trillion synapses are generated and maintained in the human brain using a toolkit of only 20,000 genes. We have been approaching this problem using molecular genetics in the fruit fly, Drosophila melanogaster. Most projects in the lab revolve around how a broadly expressed cell surface protein, called Down syndrome cell adhesion molecule 2 (Dscam2), is able to perform specific functions in different neurons. We are also interested in mechanisms of neurological disease, particularly those that involve changes in synaptic function.

Clones of mushroom body neurons in the Drosophila central brain generated using mosaic analysis with a repressible cell marker (MARCM).
Clones of mushroom body neurons in the Drosophila central brain generated using mosaic analysis with a repressible cell marker (MARCM).