Neuroscience Track Faculty

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

Meredith Addicott, PhD
Psychiatry
Web profile
My research is focused on nicotine and tobacco use disorder. Tobacco addiction overlaps with many problems, such as other substance use disorders, psychiatric disorders, and socioeconomic disparities. People affected by these problems continue to smoke at high rates while smoking rates among the general population have declined. I am excited about finding new ways to understand and fight tobacco addiction in order to help reduce smoking rates in these special populations. I use a variety of tools such as self-report questionnaires, ecological momentary assessment, computerized decision making paradigms, and functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI). Ongoing projects are investigating the stress-smoking relationship, in particular, how individual differences in distress tolerance and its neural correlates relate to the ability to quit smoking.

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.

Keith Bush, PhD
Psychiatry
Web profile 
Dr. Bush has focused his 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 cognitive processes. By understanding how the human brain decodes and integrates neurofeedback signals into its cognitive control processing, Dr. Bush hopes to optimize neuroimaging studies and develop new control-theoretic diagnostic instruments and treatments for emotional dysregulation and attendant pathologies, such as addiction.

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.

Paul D. Drew, PhD
Neurobiology & Developmental Sciences
Web profile 
Dr. Drew conducts research in the field of Neuroimmunology. Normally, immune activity in the brain is limited. However, in diseases including multiple sclerosis, Alzheimer’s disease, and alcohol abuse activated immune cells are observed in the brain. These immune cells produce cytokines that may be toxic to brain cells as well as chemokines that direct cells to sites of inflammation, resulting in neuropathology. Dr. Drew’s research involves modern cellular and molecular biology techniques.

Hari Eswaran, PhD
Obstetrics and Gynecology
Web profile
The Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology has active basic and clinical research in the divisions of Maternal-Fetal Medicine, General Obstetrics & Gynecology, and Gynecologic Oncology. Our mission is to create a center of excellence in women’s health to serve the people of Arkansas. Our goal is to expand our research activities by utilizing supportive internal resources and collaboration, and continue to seek external funding

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).

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
By understanding how the healthy brain encodes cognition, Dr. James seeks to translate this technology into patient care and better inform clinical decision-making. Dr. James believes that understanding individual differences in the neural encoding of traits such as craving, impulsivity, and working memory are crucial for understanding how these brain-behavior relationships are disrupted with addiction.

Tara Johnson, PhD
Pediatrics/Neurology
Web profile
Dr. Johnson’s research work is focused on the early identification of infants at high risk for the development of cerebral palsy and other neurodevelopmental disorders. Her KL2 Mentored Research Career Development Award project will transform current clinical practice at Arkansas Children’s Hospital by implementing the General Movement Assessment, a low-cost diagnostic tool, to identify Neurodevelopmental Disabilities at an earlier age in high-risk infants.

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.

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

Melanie MacNicol, PhD
Neurobiology and Developmental Sciences
Web profile 
I am working on the 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.

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.

Angela Odle, PhD
Neurobiology and Developmental Sciences
Web profile
Dr. Odle’s research is centered at the intersection of reproduction and metabolism, specifically at the level of the pituitary.  The lab is particularly interested in how the metabolic hormone leptin influences the development and function of the gonadotropes (LH- and FSH- secreting cells) in females.  Using a combination of transgenic models and molecular techniques, Dr. Odle aims to determine the actions of metabolism on the development of this reproductive pituitary cell network.

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.

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
My main research interests include use of laser thermal ablation for brain tumors and understanding the immune microenvironment.

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.

Tuhin Virmani, PhD
Neurology
Web profile

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