Baljit S. Khakh

Baljit S Khakh

Professor, Physiology, University of California Los Angeles

Professor, Neurobiology, University of California Los Angeles



Member, Brain Research InstituteMolecular, Cellular & Integrative Physiology GPB Home AreaNeuroscience GPB Home Area

Research Interests

Astrocyte biology and biophysics. Astrocytes are a type of brain glial cell discovered by early neuroanatomists over a century ago. Captivated by their elaborate shapes, these pioneers documented the close spatial relationships between astrocytes and neurons. Subsequent work showed that fine astrocyte processes form connections with as many as 100,000 synapses and that individual astrocytes are tiled, as though they “know” not to invade each others territories. These studies raise the exciting possibility that individual astrocytes may regulate subsets of neurons and contribute to the operation of neuronal circuits. The lab seeks to investigate this possibility. ATP signaling. One reason the body can function in a regulated manner is due to the ability of cells to communicate with other cells in a precise way over different scales of time and distance. A major advance has been the realization that ATP, which is the energy source for reactions within cells, also plays major roles as a communicator between cells by activating P2X ion channels which are cell surface ATP receptors. By understanding P2X channel physiology in neurons and glia we seek to decipher how ATP shapes excitability and signaling over broad spatial and temporal scales.


Baljit Khakh completed his Ph.D. at the University of Cambridge in the laboratory of Patrick PA Humphrey. He then completed Postdoctoral Fellowships first in the laboratory of Graeme Henderson at the University of Bristol, then in the laboratories of Henry A. Lester and Norman Davidson at the California Institute of Technology. In 2001, Khakh joined as a Group Leader at the MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology in Cambridge. In 2006, Khakh moved to the University of California, Los Angeles and is now Professor of Physiology and Neurobiology. Khakh has won several awards for his work on astrocytes and their roles in the brain.