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Toshihide Hige

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I received my Ph.D. from Kyoto University in Japan, where I established my background as a synaptic physiologist.  I studied mechanisms of synaptic transmission and plasticity in a giant glutamatergic synapse, called the calyx of Held, in a rat auditory brainstem.

The experience in synaptic physiology motivated me to link these synaptic events to higher-order sensory processing and ultimately to the animal’s behavior. To achieve this long-term goal, I decided to switch to a much simpler nervous system.  I joined Dr. Glenn Turner’s lab at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory (now in Janelia) as a postdoc and started working on the olfactory circuit of Drosophila.  Although there had been a long history of research in associative olfactory learning in Drosophila, it was still early days for neurophysiological studies.  I started by characterizing the transformation of olfactory coding in the brain area called mushroom body (Hige et al., Nature), which is known as a learning center of insects.  Later, I also demonstrated the first long-term synaptic plasticity that underlies learning and memory in this system (Hige et al., Neuron).  I recently summarized these findings in a review article.


I am starting my own lab at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill in January, 2018.  Having found the key synaptic plasticity, I am now really excited to pursue my original goal: how are the changes at the synaptic level integrated by the circuit and how do they ultimately alter the animal’s action selection?  We employ multiple physiological techniques including in vivo whole-cell patch-clamp recording, two-photon calcium imaging and behavior assays.  I am currently seeking an enthusiastic postdoc who has a coherent research interest with me!  Successful candidates should have at least one first author paper published in a peer-reviewed journal.  I welcome applicants with any research background, but the priority will be given to those with neuroscience background, especially with imaging skill.  Experience with fruit fly research is not required.  I rather encourage individuals who worked with other model organisms to apply, like I did.  Experience with engineering or programming would also be a plus.

If you are interested, please send me an email at with CV (including contact information of 2 or more referees) and your past and future research interest.

UNC-Chapel Hill provides an excellent research environment with ample opportunities of collaboration.  Especially, since my lab will belong to both the Department of Biology and the Department of Cell Biology and Physiology (Medical School), we will have a lot of interactions with a variety of researchers.  Chapel Hill and the surrounding areas offer a high quality of life.  As a part of world-renowned Research Triangle region, the area is full of academic atmosphere.  You can find many affordable housings and high-quality restaurants as well.