Gap junctions are connections between cells that allow free passage of ions and small molecules. Because ions can flow through them, gap junctions permit changes in membrane potential to pass from cell to cell in most body organs, including the brain. Gap junctions are key elements in cellular communication that are essential for normal embryonic development and function in adult organs. Combining his engineering background with more recent training in biochemical research, Dr. Francisco Cayabyab is using a number of research methods to investigate deficient levels of gap junctions and examine their regulation and function. He hopes this research will contribute to the development of new therapeutic strategies targeting gap junction proteins for certain neurological disorders, including stroke, epilepsy and schizophrenia.