Don Wei, MD, PhD
2021 Friends Scholar
Generously funded by the Goodman-Klein-Pinckney Family Foundation
Don Wei, M.D., Ph.D. is a Psychiatry Resident and Co-Chief of the Research Track at UCLA. He received his M.D., Ph.D. from UC Irvine and conducted dissertation research as an Autism Science Foundation Fellow with Professor Daniele Piomelli on the neural mechanisms of endogenous cannabinoid signaling (i.e. "endocannabinoid" system - the neurotransmitter system which mediates the psychoactive properties of cannabis), particularly in the control of social behavior. With the Friends of Semel Award, Dr. Wei is working with Professor Weizhe Hong at UCLA in order to investigate how specific neuron classes mediate synchronization of neural activity across brains during social interaction and how this signaling might be disrupted in social impairment relevant to neuropsychiatric conditions. Dr. Wei believes that this work will provide a cellular-level, mechanistic understanding of neural processes fundamental to social behavior, which could significantly advance biomarker discovery and treatment approaches to social impairment -- a symptom domain that is central to numerous neuropsychiatric disorders such as autism spectrum disorder, borderline personality disorder, depression, and schizophrenia.