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George Augustine
Irene Tan Liang Kheng Chair Professor of Neuroscience
Lee Kong Chian School of Medicine

George Augustine is the Irene Tan Liang Kheng Chair Professor of Neuroscience at the Lee Kong Chian School of Medicine at NTU. He founded the Center for Functional Connectomics at KIST in Korea and was previously a member of the Neuroscience and Behavioural Disorders Program at Duke-NUS, as well as the G.B. Geller Professor of Neurobiology in the Neurobiology Department at the Duke Medical School in the U.S.. Prof. Augustine is interested in molecular mechanisms of synaptic transmission and optogenetic mapping of brain circuitry. He has published more than 200 scientific articles and is co-author of a popular textbook, titled Neuroscience.

Research Statement

I am interested in how synapses work and how these specialized junctions between neurons transmit information within neural circuits. My contributions include defining the role of calcium ions in neurotransmitter release and in defining many of the presynaptic proteins that mediate neurotransmitter release. We have also examined the role of postsynaptic calcium signaling in synaptic plasticity, specifically the activation of cerebellar long-term synaptic depression by calcium influx and IP3-mediated calcium release of intracellular calcium. We currently employ optogenetics to map the function and spatial organization of brain circuitry. One large-scale collaborative project involves use of optogenetics to elucidate the brain circuit defects underlying dementia.

Research One-liner

Fundamental mechanisms of brain circuit function, in health and in disease


Neher, E. and G.J. Augustine (1992) Calcium gradients and buffers in bovine chromaffin cells. Physiol. 450: 273-301. One of the most highly cited papers in the calcium signaling field because it established a reliable method to measure intracellular calcium buffering and to interpret calcium imaging experiments.

Bommert, K., M.P. Charlton, W. DeBello, G. Chin, H. Betz, and G.J. Augustine (1993) Inhibition of neurotransmitter release by C2 domain peptides implicates synaptotagmin in exocytosis. Nature 363: 163-165. The first analysis of the synaptic function of synaptogagmin, a protein now known to serve as the calcium sensor for neurotransmitter release within the brain. Apparently was nominated for Nobel Prize in 2013.

Wang H, Peca J, Matsuzaki M, Matsuzaki K, Noguchi J, Qiu L, Wang D, Zhang F, Boyden E, Deisseroth K, Kasai H, Hall WC, Feng G, Augustine GJ. (2007) High-speed mapping of synaptic connectivity using photostimulation in Channelrhodopsin-2 transgenic mice. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U.S.A. 104: 8143-8148.  First use of optogenetics to map out spatial organization of local circuits in the brain; this technique serves as the basis for most work now being done in my lab.

Latest Projects

Defining the brain circuitry defects that cause dementia

Defining the function of a new cerebellar interneuron

Molecular mechanisms of synaptic depression: Roles of synapsin-synapsin interactions

Function of neurons and circuits within the claustrum, a mysterious brain region

Advice to young researchers

The most important thing in your career – indeed, in your entire life – is to follow your heart. One of the privileges we have as academics is to pursue what we find interesting, so it is important for you to find something that maximally inspiring so you can dedicate your career to its pursuit.

Other affiliation(s)

Expert Areas
Electrophysiology, fluorescence imaging, molecular biology, Optogenetics

Research Interests
ageing, brain, cell signaling, dementia, Neuroscience, synaptic transmission

Research Category
Life Sciences & Biomedicine
Research Sub-category
Biomedical Sciences & Life Sciences
NISTH Assigned Topic Groupings
Tele-health, medicine, rehab & therapeutics
Affiliated Sustainable Development Goals
GOAL 3: GOOD HEALTH AND WELL-BEING – Ensuring healthy lives and promoting the well-being for all at all ages is essential to sustainable development.
GOAL 4: QUALITY EDUCATION – Obtaining a quality education is the foundation to improving people’s lives and sustainable development.
GOAL 17: PARTNERSHIPS – Revitalize the global partnership for sustainable development.
The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), also known as the Global Goals, were adopted by all United Nations Member States in 2015 as a universal call to action to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure that all people enjoy peace and prosperity by 2030.
Last Updated
01 Jun 2020
Last Updated
13 Sep 2020