The Saez lab has a double mission, with basic and translational goals. Our basic research studies seek to understand the biological basis of human brain function, with most projects starting from a decision-making standpoint but tapping into related cognitive processes such as memory, attention and social behavior. These cognitive processes go wrong in brain disorders such as depression or addiction, so in parallel we seek to develop a deeper understanding of brain activity underlying disease, with the goal of developing novel neurotherapeutical approaches based on invasive neurostimulation.
During your stay in the lab, I expect trainees to become experts on the topics necessary to carry out their projects. For most, that will involve several of the following topics: electrophysiology, invasive neurosurgical approaches, neuroanatomy, behavioral task design and computational modeling. Trainees should be proficient in all the steps necessary to carry out their projects and fully independent to conduct research once they graduate from the lab. After these are mastered, trainees are encouraged to step outside of these boundaries to in pursuit of new approaches to ask their questions of interest.
The majority of our research projects are patient-centered. Our translational projects start and end with patient needs –we take inspiration from our interaction with patients, which in turn guides experimental design and questions with the ultimate goal of designing novel therapeutical treatments for the treatment of brain disorders. Our privileged clinic-adjacent situation, in which interactions with patients are a necessary part of everyday research life, acts as both a constant reminder and an inspiration for why we do what we do.
Both a lab philosophy and a reflection on the reality of modern research approaches, we often engage in team research efforts. At the very minimum, we integrate and communicate with our clinical colleagues in neurology, neurosurgery and psychiatry for everything patient-related - a central part of what we do. Beyond that, team-based approaches are heavily encouraged, including participating and helping other trainees and lab members in their projects (and vice versa), brainstorming ideas with other lab members, and collaborating with other labs both within and across institutions.
One of the main benefits of academic life is the constant learning – of techniques, ideas, concepts. As well as the other perks of academic life, including the opportunity to interact with brilliant and interesting people (be in the right room), the constantly shifting nature of your goals and projects (no two days are the same) and the constant opportunity for personal and technical development. You will likely have ambitious goals, but the journey is what you make of it – and you should enjoy it.