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Ege T. Kavalalı, Ph.D.

Professor & Chair, Department of Pharmacology
William Stokes Chair In Experimental Therapeutics


As an undergraduate Dr. Kavalalı studied Electrical Engineering at Bogazici University in Istanbul, Turkey.  In 1995, he received his Ph.D. degree from Rutgers University, where he worked with Dr. Mark Plummer.  In 1999, he completed his postdoctoral studies with Dr. Richard W. Tsien at Stanford University in the Department of Molecular and Cellular Physiology.  The same year, Dr. Kavalalı joined the faculty at the Center for Basic Neuroscience at UT Southwestern led by Dr. Thomas C. Südhof.  After 19 years of service at UT Southwestern, in September 2018, Dr. Kavalalı joined the Department of Pharmacology at Vanderbilt University as a Professor.

Research Description

Dr. Kavalalı studies mechanisms of neurotransmission and synaptic signaling in the central nervous system using electrical and optical recording techniques as well as molecular tools. His group focuses on the molecular basis and functional consequences of heterogeneity among synaptic vesicle recycling pathways present within individual synapses. In particular, his work has uncovered the role and underlying mechanisms of spontaneous neurotransmitter release that holds it apart mechanistically and functionally from evoked neurotransmission. These studies gave rise to the hypothesis that spontaneous neurotransmission acts as an autonomous neuronal signaling pathway independent of action potential-evoked synaptic transmission. In addition, Dr. Kavalalı and colleagues have identified spontaneous neurotransmission-dependent signal transduction mechanisms that are required to trigger rapid antidepressant action.

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