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Neuroscience Track Faculty

The primary department of each Neuroscience track faculty member is listed.

Syed Ali, PhD
Biochemistry and Molecular Biology
Web profile
My laboratory is studying the effects of nanomaterials on the central nervous system.We have demonstrated that NPs are capable of generating oxidative stress and free radicals, which may in turn produce neurotoxicity.  Carbon nanotubes (CNTs) and graphenes are considered to have revolutionized the field of nanotechnology because of their light weight. However, this property can be potentially hazardous if it allows CNTs or graphenes to reach the lung and blood stream after environmental exposure.  Using in vitro and in vivo approaches,We plans to investigate the potential of CNTs to produce adverse effects on cellular systems due to their ability to cross the blood brain barrier (BBB). In addition, we are also investigating the effects of cell phone radiation on BBB integrity using both cell culture models and whole animal approach.     In addiction,my research focused also on the study of cellular and molecular mechanisms of oxidative stress and free radical-induced neurodegeneration and potential neuroprotective mechanisms of antioxidants. DWe have demonstrated that selective CNS-acting drugs, drugs of abuse, dietary supplements, environmental agents, pesticides, and organometals induce neurotoxicity by generating free radicals. Using different pharmacological and genetic approaches We have also demonstrated that peroxynitrite is responsible in methamphetamine (METH)-induced dopaminergic neurotoxicity and compromises BBB integrity.  We have s l utilizes the MPTP-mouse model of Parkinson’s disease (PD) and to examine the neuroprotective role of nitric oxide inhibitors, protease inhibitors and selective dopaminergic agonists and antagonists.

Antiño Allen, PhD
Division of Radiation Health
Web profile
Chemotherapy and Radiation treatment are an integral part of the treatment of patients inflicted with cancer. As cancer patients live longer, delayed treatment effects on normal tissue have become a concern. Damage to postnatal neurogenesis and mature neuronal morphology are now believed to be the cellular basis for much of the cognitive dysfunction that follows cancer treatment with cranial radiation and chemotherapy. Our laboratory utilizes pharmacologic approaches and genetic models to examine how the changes in the neuronal microenvironment e.g. inflammation, oxidative stress affects cognitive function.

Srinivas Ayyadevara, PhD
Geriatrics
Web profile
Role of protein aggregation in age-related disorders. Protein homeostasis in neurodegenerative disorders and aging

Giulia Baldini, MD, PhD
Biochemistry and Molecular Biology
Web profile
The lab studies Melanocortin-4 receptor, a G-protein coupled receptor involved in appetite control

Steven Barger, PhD
Geriatrics
Web profile 
My lab is focused on Alzheimer’s disease. Current research is examining the role of diabetes-related disruptions in glucose metabolism and the impact this has on brain function. Evidence indicates that both Alzheimer’s and diabetes involve processes connected to inflammation, which has been another of my longstanding areas of research.

Helen Benes, PhD
Neurobiology and Developmental Sciences
Web page
I have two (2) major areas of research, which at present are focused on the mosquito as a vector of a number of human infectious diseases (malaria, dengue, West Nile virus, etc.):  1) sex-specific regulation of gene expression in the immature female mosquito in order to develop novel strategies for control of mosquito populations, hence the spread of infectious diseases by female mosquitoes to humans.  My lab focuses on making transgenic mosquitoes to drive certain types of sex-specific gene expression including of cell death genes.  We are also interested in the basic molecular mechanisms underlying sex-specific gene activity in mosquitoes. 2) Inspired by work done in our lab in Drosophila and the mouse, we have undertaken the first study of the transcription factor, Nrf2, in the malaria mosquito.  We are characterizing Nrf2 activity at the transcriptional and post-translational level and exploring the role of Nrf2 in the regulation of detoxification genes whose expression is needed in following a blood meal in female mosquitoes.

Sarah Blossom, PhD
Pediatrics
Web profile
Developmental exposure to environmental toxicants in a mouse model and understanding mechanisms of exposures on immune system, neurodevelopment, and behavior

Michael Borelli, PhD
Radiology

John Bowyer, PhD
NCTR
Over the last 25 years, my research has focused on the neurotoxic effects of stimulants, particularly the amphetamines, as it relates to seizures and hyperthermia.  In the last 10 years my research interests have focused primarily on the molecular biology/toxicology aspects of neurotoxic insults as they relate to brain vasculature, specifically, the adverse effects of amphetamines on the meninges and the choroid plexus.  Most recently, our group within the FDA has been looking at mechanisms to open up the BBB to test the neurotoxicity of drugs that have minimal access to the CNS.

Keith Bush, PhD
Psychiatry
Web profile 
My research interests on machine learning and control theoretic approaches to real-time human neuroimaging, using both real-time fMRI and fMRI-based neurofeedback to understand and exploit volitional regulation of emotion. By understanding how the human brain decodes and integrates neurofeedback signals into its processing, Dr. Bush hopes to optimize neuroimaging studies and develop new control theoretic treatments for emotional disorders.

Jason Chang, PhD
Neurobiology and Developmental Sciences
Web profile 
Apoptosis; Mercury toxicity; Tai Chi exercise for osteoarthritis pain

John Chelonis, PhD
Pediatrics
Behavioral assessment across species (rats, monkeys, and humans)

Gwen Childs, PhD
Neurobiology and Developmental Sciences
Web profile
We are actively studying the role of leptin in the regulation of pituitary cells. We have discovered that leptin may be a post transcriptional regulator for target hormones, receptors and transcription factors. Our studies range from whole animal to molecular approaches and a student would get training in a number of complementary protocols. Our studies are translationally relevant to growth, obesity, reproduction, and fetal and neonatal development.

David Davies, PhD
Neurobiology and Developmental Sciences
Web profile
Neurodevelopmental and neurodegenerative sequelae resulting from traumatic brain injury. Current research is focused on medical education issues.

Maxim Dobretsov, PhD
Anesthesiology
Web profile
Studies of mechanisms of physiological and neuropathic pain and pharmacological treatment of pain  Studies of the role of isoforms of Na,K-ATPase in neuronal function and disease  Studies of the effects of physiological effects of microgravity and low-grade irradiation in rat models

Paul Drew, PhD
Neurobiology and Developmental Sciences
Web profile
Neuroimmunology

Hari Eswaran, PhD
Obstetrics and Gynecology
Web profile

William Fantegrossi, PhD
Pharmacology and Toxicology
Web profile
Research in my laboratory is currently focused on several categories of emerging drugs of abuse, including synthetic cannabinoids (constituents of K2/”Spice” smoking blends), analogues of cathinone (present in “bath salts” preparations), and novel arylcyclohexylamines (related to PCP and ketamine.) In an effort to better understand the biological actions of these emerging drugs of abuse, we use behavioral pharmacology techniques in rodents to compare these compounds with more the well-known drugs of abuse which these emerging drugs are designed to mimic (such as the phytocannabinoid delta9-THC, psychostimulants like MDMA and methamphetamine, and PCP).

Sherry Ferguson, PhD
National Center for Toxicological Research
Neurobehavioral toxicology

Edgar Garcia-Rill, PhD
Neurobiology and Developmental Sciences
Web profile
Neuroscience

Paul Gottschall, PhD
Pharmacology and Toxicology
Web profile
Synaptic plasticity is a neuronal mechanism essential for memory formation and recall, and alterations in plasticity occur in various types of dementia including Alzheimer’s disease.  Data from my laboratory has supported the concept that extracellular matrix is a key modulator of synaptic plasticity and changes in matrix deposition with age and in Alzheimer’s disease contribute to the decline in plasticity that occurs, pre-clinically, in disease progression.  Thus, particular matrix molecules that interact with the synapse provide a novel target for testing pharmacological compounds that affect matrix synthesis, deposition and signaling which would improve synaptic plasticity and delay or inhibit the progression of Alzheimer’s disease.

Qiang Gu, PhD
National Center for Toxicological Research
Elucidating and identifying signaling molecules associated with neurodegenerative disorders and neurotoxicity

Abdallah Hayar, PhD
Neurobiology and Developmental Sciences
Web profile
Electrophysiology of olfactory bulb and cerebellar neurons – Alcohol research – Rhythmic motor movements such as licking and running – Effects of radiation on neuronal function – Imaging neuronal network – Synchronous bursting of neurons.

Andrew James, PhD
Psychiatry
Web profile
Improving functional neuroimaging methodology to understand normative variance in neural encoding of cognition, in order to better translate fMRI research into clinical practice.

Cynthia Kane, PhD
Neurobiology and Developmental Sciences
Web profile
We are team investigating the impact of alcohol consumption on brain function. We study the impact of alcohol across the lifespan, from the impact on a fetus when a mother drinks alcohol, through the impact of adolescent and adult binge and chronic drinking, to the impact on the aging brain.

Mahmoud Kiaei, PhD
Pharmacology and Toxicology
Web profile
Investigating the mechanism(s) of motor neuron degeneration in ALS, development of efficacious therapeutic strategy for ALS and other neurodegenerative diseases. Development of transgenic mouse model for ALS carrying profilin1 mutation. Investigation of mutant profilin1 toxicity.

Linda Larson-Prior, PhD
Psychiatry
Web profile
The focus of my laboratory (http://eon.wustl.edu) is on the dynamic neural network re-configurations that occur as the brain changes its state under both normal conditions such as sleep, and in abnormal conditions such as induced shifts in conscious awareness (anesthesia) or pathological shifts in cognitive awareness (fluctuating consciousness, sleep parasomnias and neurodegenerative disease states).  We have developed the use of simultaneous acquisition of electroencephalography (EEG) and functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to help us better understand these shifts in network connectivity and function as the brain shifts state over the course of 24 hours.  We have extended our neuroimaging (fMRI) data to examine changes in large-scale functional brain network connectivity with neural state using graph theoretical techniques.  As part of the Human Connectome Project, my laboratory worked with a large international team to define the time-varying connection patterns in over 1200 normal adult human subjects (http://www.humanconnectome.org).  The laboratory maintains extensive collaborations with other research teams interested in the use of functional network methods in EEG, MEG, fMRI and EEG/fMRI to examine brain dynamics in both health and disease.

Sang-Hun Lee, PhD
Neurology
Web profile
My lab studies the functional organization of GABAergic inhibitory circuits in hippocampal networks that regulate neural activity in normal and pathological conditions. My team focuses on the hippocampal cannabinoid signaling system, because hippocampal GABAergic inhibitory activity is regulated by the cannabinoid signaling system, and abnormal cannabinoid signaling in the brain may be mechanistically connected to certain pathological conditions such as epilepsy. W employ state-of-the-art techniques that include in vitro and in vivo electrophysiological, optogenetic, imaging, anatomical, molecular, and pharmacological techniques to determine the underlying mechanisms of normal and pathological network activity. Ultimately, our research aims to develop evidence-based targets for therapeutic treatments of epilepsy and other brain disorders.

Melanie MacNicol, PhD
Neurobiology and Developmental Sciences
Web profile 
I am working on identification of the cellular mechanisms that control cell growth and development.  I am particularly interested in the role and regulation of stem cells in neural development and in cancer.

Angus MacNicol, PhD
Neurobiology and Developmental Sciences
Web profile
Cell cycle control, stem cells, cancer stem cells, drug discovery, mRNA translation, vertebrate development

Erin Mannen, PhD
Orthopaedic Surgery
Web profile
I study cadaveric spine biomechanics from both a basic science perspective by evaluating the motion and stiffness of the spine, and from a clinical perspective by testing the mechanical impact of surgical procedures and medical devices. I also study living human motion, focusing in women’s and infant biomechanics during babywearing.

Mark Mennemeier, PhD
Neurobiology and Developmental Sciences
Web profile
Dr. Mennemeier uses repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS) to research and treat clinical disorders like tinnitus and to study normal sensory perception.

Xiawei Ou, PhD
Radiology and Pediatrics
Web profile
My current research focuses on using advanced pediatric neuroimaging methods to study brain injury in infants with extremely low birth weight and to evaluate effects of nutrition/obesity on brain development in healthy children.

Merle Paule, PhD
Pharmacology and Toxicology
Behavioral Pharmacology and Toxicology; Using behavioral tasks of cognitive function to assess the effects of drugs and other chemical on brain function, from animal models–including rodents and nonhuman primates–to humans with a focus on pediatric aspects.   The developmental neurotoxicity associated with pediatric general anesthesia.

Eric Peterson, PhD
Pharmacology and Toxicology
Web profile
The overall goal of our research is to develop new antibody-based medications to treat chronic and acute methamphetamine (METH) abuse.

Kevin D. Phelan, PhD
Neurobiology and Developmental Sciences
Web profile
Ethanol regulation of neuroimmune mechanisms in the brain. Role of TRPC channels in seizure generation, epilepsy and stroke.

Paul Prather, PhD
Pharmacology and Toxicology
Web profile
I am a cellular/molecular pharmacologist whose research interests involve understanding the neurobiological mechanisms underlying the addictive states produced by drugs of abuse. Specifically, for over 20 years I have been investigating the cellular and molecular mechanisms of signal transduction mediated by G-protein coupled receptors (GPCRs) with which drugs of abuse interact, specifically opioids and cannabinoids.

Robert Reis, PhD
Geriatrics
Web profile
My research focuses on the molecular genetics of longevity and age-associated diseases. I was trained in genetics, and turned to C. elegans as a model system in which to develop gene mapping methods to characterize genes that govern longevity.  We developed new methods for this, and succeeded in mapping over 27 highly-significant loci for lifespan, resistance to stresses, and Darwinian fitness.  Using chromosomal mapping, my group was the first to identify the Pirin gene on the X chromosome as a determinant of post-menopausal bone loss in women, a discovery later confirmed in a Chinese population.  We also pioneered the role of homologous recombination in the development and progression of myeloma, prostate, and breast cancers. We were the first to note that cells from many different cancer types feature very high levels of homologous recombination, and high expression of the Rad51 recombinase complex that mediates it. We are now working chiefly on genetic factors that regulate lifespan, and that contribute to protein aggregation — key toxic intermediates in neurodegenerative diseases.

Analiz Rodriguez, MD, PhD
Neurosurgery
Web profile

Sumit Sarkar, PhD
National Center for Toxicological Research
Web profile
My research work has been focused on effect of various neurotoxicants in the brain vasculature and other components of the neurovascular unit. The components of the neurovascular units (pericytes, microglia, astrocytes, and neurons, and basal lamina) act as an intricate network to maintain the neuronal homeostatic microenvironment. Thus, disruptions to this intricate cell network due to exposure to neurotoxicant can lead to neuron malfunction and symptoms characteristic of CNS diseases. My lab investigates the role of neurovascular elements and microvasculature in neurodegenerative disorders with special emphasis on Parkinson and Alzheimer’s disease using rodent models.

William Slikker, PhD
NCTR
Web profile
Developmental neurotoxicology

Patricia Wight, PhD
Physiology and Biophysics
Web profile
The focus of research in my laboratory is centered on CNS development, particularly with regard to the formation and maintenance of myelin. Myelin is the tightly compacted multilamellar sheath, which surrounds axons and promotes saltatory conduction of nerve impulses. The myelin proteolipid protein gene (PLP1) encodes the most abundant protein found in mature myelin from the CNS. Expression of the gene is regulated spatiotemporally, with maximal expression occurring in oligodendrocytes during the myelination period of CNS development. PLP1 expression is tightly controlled; misregulation of the gene in humans can result in the X-linked dysmyelinating disorder Pelizaeus-Merzbacher disease (PMD), and in transgenic mice carrying a null mutation or extra copies of the gene can result in a variety of conditions from late onset demyelination and axonopathy to severe early onset dysmyelination. With the use of transgenic and transfection paradigms, we have been able to show that the first intron of the PLP1 contains an enhancer region that is required for expression in oligodendrocytes as well as in other cell types that express PLP1. This region also overlaps a couple of recently discovered, alternatively spliced exons that are primarily restricted to the human species. Current efforts in the laboratory are focused on: identifying the transcription factors/architectural proteins that mediate enhancer function in PLP1 intron 1; test whether critical mutations in the enhancer could be the cause of PMD in patients with unaltered PLP1 coding sequence and gene dosage; understand the and spatiotemporal expression and function of intron 1-dervied splice isoforms in man. We are also using our PLP1-lacZ transgenic mice as a tool to screen for small molecules that stimulate myelination as a possible therapeutic for demyelinating diseases such as multiple sclerosis.

Fang Zheng, PhD
Pharmacology and Toxicology
Web profile
Molecular and celllular mechanisms of epilepsy, stroke and other neurological diseases and the discovery of novel therapeutics