Travis Faust, Ph.D.
I graduated from Princeton University in 2011 with an A.B. in Molecular Biology and a Certificate in Neuroscience. As an undergraduate, I completed an undergraduate thesis in Dr. Carlos Brody’s lab to define the anatomical coordinates of a pre-motor decision-making circuit in rats and identify candidate participatory brain regions. That fall, I joined the Neuroscience Ph.D. program at Johns Hopkins University and began working in Dr. Akira Sawa’s lab to determine the contribution of glial cells to neuropsychiatric disorders such as schizophrenia. For my Ph.D. work, I focused on ALDH7A1, an enzyme of previously unknown function in the brain that is highly enriched in astrocytes and the causative factor for a rare genetic form of epilepsy. We discovered specific functions for ALDH7A1 in astrocytes which affect neuron-astrocyte interactions underlying cortical excitatory-inhibitory balance and behavior. In parallel, we developed a mouse model for pyridoxine-dependent epilepsy to investigate the pathophysiology of excitatory-inhibitory imbalance and develop novel therapeutic strategies. I received my Ph.D. in 2018 and joined Dr. Schafer’s lab as a Postdoctoral Associate where I am continuing to investigate how glial cells affect neural circuits, focusing particularly on interactions between astrocytes and microglia.