Mark Steven Cembrowski

Assistant Professor

Research Interests

Mechanisms of memory in the brain
Big Data
Cell types
Neural circuits
Neuroscience of memory

Relevant Thesis-Based Degree Programs

Research Options

I am available and interested in collaborations (e.g. clusters, grants).
I am interested in and conduct interdisciplinary research.
I am interested in working with undergraduate students on research projects.

Research Methodology

Single-cell RNA-seq
Big data analysis (transcriptomics)
in situ hybridization
Patch-clamp electrophysiology
Cell-type-specific gene knockouts (CRISPR)
Virus-mediated anterograde and retrograde circuit mapping
Circuit-specific silencing and activation
1P calcium imaging during behaviour


Master's students
Doctoral students
Postdoctoral Fellows

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Graduate Student Supervision

Master's Student Supervision

Theses completed in 2010 or later are listed below. Please note that there is a 6-12 month delay to add the latest theses.

Mapping anomalous subiculum excitatory neurons across circuits and behavior (2024)

Subiculum pyramidal neurons form the main output of the hippocampus and are studied as the cellular basis of various aspects of memory and spatial navigation. Increasing evidence has demonstrated a great deal of heterogeneity within the subiculum, from intrinsic cell properties to connectivity and function. Recent single-cell RNA sequencing analysis has identified a sparse, transcriptomically distinct population of subiculum excitatory neurons, marked by high expression of the gene Ly6g6e. Utilizing a transgenic mouse line that allows cre-mediated cell-type-specific access of these cells, this research investigates the morphology, connectivity, and activity correlates of this unique subpopulation. Leveraging this transgenic line with cell-type-specific viral tracing tools and whole brain clearing, we discovered that this neuronal population occupies the deepest layer of the subiculum, displays unique morphological properties, and forms dedicated axonal projections to the anterior thalamic nuclei. Publicly available neuron reconstructions also recapitulate these results.To interrogate potential functional correlates of this population, chemogenetic activity silencing was used during encoding of a novel object recognition (NOR) task. DREADDs-based inhibition of this subpopulation did not produce a behavioral deficit, and histological analysis of activity inhibited cells via fluorescent in situ hybridization (FISH) did not result in decreased immediate early gene (IEG) expression after novel object interaction compared to controls. Considering these results alongside other data from our lab suggests that other methods of manipulating cellular activity may be more suitable for this subpopulation.Motivated by the unique local and long-range structure of this excitatory population and the sustained activity responses seen in vivo, FISH was used to assess potential preferential recruitment of deep subiculum cells via IEG expression following a NOR task. No significant difference in IEG expression was seen between object types; however, this population exhibited a high baseline of activity relative to population abundance.In sum, this data provides evidence for a previously unknown excitatory cell subtype within the subiculum that exhibits unique structural characteristics and sustained activity, and that could play a potentially specialized role in recognition memory.

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