Updated 12/23/2013
AKIRA SAKURAI
Neuroscience Institute
Georgia State University
P.O. Box 5030
Atlanta, GA 30302-5030
Tel: 404-413-5364
Fax: 404-413-5301
E-mail: akira(at)gsu.edu 


EDUCATION:
Ph.D., 1998 Doctoral Program in Biological Sciences, Univ. of Tsukuba, Japan
Thesis title: "Electrophysiological studies in acceleratory nervous regulation in the isopod crustacean Ligia exotica."
Advisor: Dr. H. Yamagishi
B.Sc., 1993 College of Biological Sciences, University of Tsukuba, Japan


PROFESSIONAL EXPERIENCES:
Jul 2008-present Research Scientist II, Neuroscience Institute, Georgia State University, Atlanta, Georgia
Jun 2004-Jun 2008 Research Scientist I, Department of Biology, Georgia State University, Atlanta, Georgia
Jul 2001-May 2004 Research Associate, Department of Biology, Georgia State University, Atlanta, Georgia
Jul 2000-May 2001 Research Assistant Professor, Section of Molecular Neurobiology, Graduate School, Tokyo Medical and Dental University, Tokyo, Japan
Apr 2000-Jul 2000 Research Fellow of the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science (JSPS), Department of Biology, Tokyo Metropolitan University, Tokyo, Japan
May 1998-Mar 2000 Postdoctoral Fellow, Department of Biological Sciences, University of Calgary, Calgary, Alberta, Canada


RESEARCH EXPERIENCES:
2001-presnet Georgia State University.
   Working in the laboratory of Dr. Paul Katz, I study the cellular mechanisms underlying the spike timing-dependent neuromodulation of synaptic strength in the central pattern generator (CPG) circuit. I found that the serotonergic interneuron in the Tritonia swim CPG can increase or decrease the efficacy of other neuron's synapses, depending on the relative timing of their spiking activities. Recently I found that the swim CPG exhibits functional recovery after a partial lesion of the circuit.

2000-2001 Tokyo Medical and Dental University, Japan.
   By in vivo recording of single unit activities in the midbrain of anesthetized guinea pigs, I found that changes in blood sugar level affect the threshold of the central rhythm generator activity involved in cortically-induced rhythmic jaw movements.

2000 JSPS Tokyo Metropolitan University, Japan.
   Working in the laboratory of Dr. K. Kuwasawa, I studied the development of axonal projection of the cardioregulatory neurons from the central nervous system to the heart during the embryonic development of crustaceans using basic histological techniques combined with immunohistochemical labeling of neuronal processes.

1998-2000 University of Calgary, Canada.
   Working in the laboratory of Dr. J. L. Wilkens, I investigated the diversity in electrophysiological and mechanical properties of muscle fibers in crustacean heart. I also investigated the effects of muscle tension on heart pacemaker neurons and discovered that these neurons form "single-neuron reflex arch" inside the heart.

1992‑1998 University of Tsukuba, Japan.
   My doctoral thesis, entitled, "Electrophysiological studies in acceleratory nervous regulation in the isopod crustacean Ligia exotica" was completed in the laboratory of Dr. H. Yamagishi. I identified two pairs of the cardioacceleratory neurons in the central nervous system of the isopod crustacean and determined their actions onto the heart pacemaker neurons and the heart muscle. I also found that the heart pacemaker neurons use glutamate as the neurotransmitter and that they exhibit both spike-mediated and graded synaptic transmission to the heart muscle.


PUBLICATIONS:
  1. Gunaratne CA, Sakurai A, Katz PS (2013) Comparative mapping of GABA-immunoreactive neurons in the central nervous systems of nudibranch molluscs. J Comp Neurol, in press.
  2. Newcomb JM, Sakurai A, Lillvis JL, Gunaratne CA, and Katz PS (2012) Homology and homoplasy of swimming behaviors and neural circuits in the Nudipleura (Mollusca, Gastropoda, Opisthobranchia). In the Light of Evolution: Volume VI: Brain and Behavior, pp153-174.
  3. Newcomb JM, Sakurai A, Lillvis JL, Gunaratne CA, and Katz PS (2012) Homology and homoplasy of swimming behaviors and neural circuits in the Nudipleura (Mollusca, Gastropoda, Opisthobranchia). PNAS 109 Supplement 1: 10669-10676.
  4. Sakurai A, Newcomb JM, Lillvis JL and Katz PS (2011) Different roles for homologous interneurons in species exhibiting similar thythmic behaviors. Curr Biol 21: 1036-1043.
  5. Sakurai A and Katz PS (2009) Functional recovery after lesion of a central pattern generator. J Neurosci 29: 13115-13125. This paper was reviewed by Faculty of 1000 Biology (F1000 Factor 9.0). "Functional recovery of a structure such as the spinal cord after a lesion of the nervous system may depend on the re-establishment of axonal connections through regeneration/sprouting of descending pathways or else on plastic mechanisms within the spinal cord itself. Unfortunately, the cellular bases for the latter are lacking. This remarkable paper by Sakurai and Katz is a clear example of how simpler animal preparations (Tritonia diomedea) may shed light on mechanisms of the functional recovery of the swim escape behaviour that depends on plastic changes within such intrinsic circuitry after a central lesion." by Serge Rossignol (8 Jan 2010)
  6. Sakurai A and Katz PS (2009) State-, timing-, and pattern-dependent neuromodulation of synaptic strength by a serotonergic interneuron. J Neusosci 29: 268-279.
  7. Hill ES, Sakurai A, and Katz PS. (2008) Transient enhancement of spike-evoked calcium signaling by a serotonergic interneuron. J Neurophysiol 100: 2919-2928.
  8. Clemens S, Calin-Jageman RJ, Sakurai A, and Katz PS (2007) Altering cAMP levels within a central pattern generator modifies or disrupts rhythmic motor output. J Comp Physiol A 193: 1265-1271.
  9. Sakurai A, Calin-Jageman R, and Katz PS (2007) Potentiation phase of spike timing dependent neuromodulation by a serotonergic interneuron involves an increase in the fraction of transmitter release. J Neurophysiol 98: 1975-1987. This paper was reviewed by Faculty of 1000 Biology (F1000 Factor 3.0). "This careful study provides evidence that the 5HT-induced potentiation phase of spike-timing-dependent neuromodulation of the synaptic output of ventral swim interneuron B in the mollusk Tritonia diomedea is caused by an increase in the fraction of transmitter release." by John Hildebrand (27 Nov 2007)
  10. Sakurai A (2007) Spike timing-dependent neuromodulation in the Tritonia swim central pattern generator. Jpn Soc Comp Physiol Biochem 24: 18-26.
  11. Sakurai A, Darghouth NR., Butera RJ., and Katz PS (2006) Serotonergic enhancement of a 4-AP-sensitive current mediates the synaptic depression phase of spike timing-dependent neuromodulation. J Neurosci 26: 2010-2021.
  12. Yamagishi H, Miyamoto H, and Sakurai A (2004) Developmental changes in dopamine modulation of the heart in the isopod crustacean Ligia exotica: Reversal of chronotropic effect. Zool Sci 21: 917-922.
  13. Katz PS, Sakurai A, Clemens S, and Davis D (2004) The cycle period of a network oscillator is independent of membrane potential and spiking activity in individual central pattern generator neurons. J Neurophysiol 92: 1904-1917.
  14. Sakurai A and Katz PS (2003) Spike timing-dependent serotonergic neuromodulation of synaptic strength intrinsic to a central pattern generator circuit. J Neurosci 23: 10745-10755. This paper was reviewed by Faculty of 1000 Biology (F1000 Factor 6.0). "This paper shows that neuromodulation can be used to shape each oscillatory cycle of a pattern-generating circuit." by William Kristan (15 Dec 2003) 
  15. Sakurai A and Wilkens JL (2003) Tension sensitivity of the heart pacemaker neurons in the isopod crustacean Ligia pallasii. J Exp Biol 206: 105-115.
  16. Sakurai A (2001) Neuromuscular transmission in the heart of crustacean Ligia exotica. Jpn Soc Comp Physiol Biochem 18: 36-42.
  17. Sakurai A and Yamagishi H (2000) Graded neuromuscular transmission in the heart of the isopod crustacean Ligia exotica. J Exp Biol 203: 1447-1457.
  18. Sakurai A, Mori A, and Yamagishi H (1999) Acceleratory nervous regulation of juvenile myogenic hearts in the isopod crustacean Ligia exotica. Comp Biochem Physiol 124A: 575-580.
  19. Sakurai A, Mori A, and Yamagishi H (1999) Cardioinhibitory neurons in the isopod crustacean Ligia exotica. Zool Sci 16: 401-406.
  20. Sakurai A (1998) Electrophysiological studies in acceleratory nervous regulation of the heart in the isopod crustacean, Ligia exotica. Doctoral Thesis, University of Tsukuba.
  21. Yamagishi H, Sakurai A, and Mori A (1998) Isolation of neurogenic and myogenic activities by Joro spider toxin in the adult heart of the isopod crustacean Ligia exotica. Zool Sci 15: 673-676.
  22. Sakurai A, Mori A, and Yamagishi H (1998) Glutamatergic neuromuscular transmission in the heart of the isopod crustacean Ligia exotica. J Exp Biol 201: 2833-2842.
  23. Sakurai A and Yamagishi H (1998) Cardioacceleratory neurons in the isopod crustacean, Ligia exotica: Visualization of peripheral projection onto the heart muscle. Zool Sci 15: 19-25.
  24. Sakurai A and Yamagishi H (1998) Identification of cardioacceleratory neurons in the isopod crustacean, Ligia exotica and their effects on cardiac ganglion cells. J Comp Physiol A 182: 145-152.


AWARDS:
2000 Yoshida Prize for Young Researchers, Japanese Society for Comparative Physiology and Biochemistr
2004 Best Poster Award, South East Nerve Net Meeting
2005 Postdoctoral Travel Award, Society for Neuroscience Chapters



FUNDING:
2000-2001 Research Fellowship of the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science for Young Scientists. "Development of cardioregulatory neural projection to the embryonic heart in the isopod crustacean, Ligia exotica."
2001-2007 NIH/NINDS R01-NS35371 (PI: P.S. Katz) "Intrinsic neuromodulation of a small neuronal network" Role: Research associate
2008 Brains & Behavior Seed Grant, Georgia State University (PI: P.S. Katz) "A model for functional recovery without nerve regeneration" Role: Co-investigator
2008 Brains & Behavior Seed Grant, Georgia State University (PI: R. Clewley) "A data-driven model optimization strategy for synaptic plasticity" Role: Post-doc
2008-2012 NSF IOS-0814411 (PI: P.S. Katz) "Evolution of Neural Circuits for Locomotion" Role: Research Scientist
2011-2015 NSF-IOS-1120950 (PI: P.S. Katz) “Evolution of Neural Circuits for Locomotion” Role: Research Scientist
2012 Brains & Behavior Seed Grand, Georgia State University (PI: P.S. Katz) “Comparative analysis of neural circuit dynamics”


MEMBERSHIP OF ACADEMIC SOCIETIES:
Society for Neuroscience
International Society for Neuroethology
Japanese Society for Comparative Physiology and Biochemistry


INVITED TALKS:
Jul 2000 Invited Speaker, Yoshida Prize for Young Researchers Symposium, Japanese Society for Comparative Physiology and Biochemistry.
Oct 2006 BMED 8813A / ECE 8803A: Hybrid Neural Microsystem, Georgia Institute of Technology.
Nov 2009 Biology4970 Undergraduate Seminar, Georgia State University.
Feb 2010 Neurobiology Seminar, University of Puerto Rico.
Jul 2010 Biology8700 Graduate Seminar, Georgia State University.
Jul 2012 Computational Neuroscience Workshop "Dynamics of rhythm generation."
Jul 2012 Computational Neuroscience Workshop "Principles of motor pattern generation: experiments and modeling."
Aug 2012 Symposium speaker, Tenth International Congress of Neuroethology.
Mar 2013 Platform Presenter, South East Neuroscience Consortium Meeting.
Nov 2013 Departmental Seminar, College of Charleston.


AD HOC REFEREE:
Journal of Neuroscience
Journal of Neurophysiology
Frontiers in Invertebrate Physiology


SERVICES:
1996-1998 Young researcher association organizer, Japanese Society for Comparative Biochemistry and Physiology
1998-2000 Young researcher association committee, Japanese Society for Comparative Biochemistry and Physiology
2002-2004 Councilor, Japanese Society for Comparative Biochemistry and Physiology
2004 South East Nerve Net, Steering committee
2006 South East Nerve Net, Steering committee 2008 South East Nerve Net, Steering committee
2010-2011 Councilor (elected), Japanese Society for Comparative Biochemistry and Physiology
2011- Review Editor, Frontiers in Invertebrate Physiology