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Axons of olfactory sensory neurons (red and green) coalesce in the mouse olfactory bulb to form glomeruli that are surrounded by cells (nuclei in blue). By Michael Akins, PhD

Our department's focus in neuroscience comprises multiple investigators who pursue research to better understand how the nervous system develops and functions. Researchers in the department study numerous aspects of neuroscience including neurogenesis, neural circuit formation and function, how neural circuits change with experience, the function of astrocytes on nervous system development and function, how genes affect behavior, and the evolution of brain structures in social insects. Our faculty use a large number of model organisms including worms, flies and mice. We also use technology including two-photon microscopy to visualize neurons in living animals, and super resolution microscopy to study the fine structure of synaptic connections.

Faculty Conducting Research in Neuroscience

Contact Specialization
Michael Akins
Assistant Professor
PISB 319
Experience-dependent plasticity in the mammalian nervous system; post-transcriptional regulation of gene expression in neurons
Dr. John Bethea
Department Head, Professor
PISB 123.04
Felice Elefant , Ph.D.
Associate Professor, Co-Director of the Biology Graduate Program
PISB 317

Impairment of epigenetic gene control mechanisms in the brain involving histone acetylation causes significant cognitive deficits that are a debilitating hallmark of most neurodegenerative disorders, including Alzheimer’s disease (AD).   My laboratory is focused on understanding the mechanisms that govern epigenetic regulation of higher order brain function.  Recently, we made the exciting discovery that epigenetic Tip60 histone acetylation (HAT) action is critical for cognitive processes and remarkably, plays a neuroprotective role under in vivo disease state neurodegenerative conditions.   We are currently exploring the mechanisms underlying neural Tip60 HAT function in neuroprotective epigenetic gene control and the beneficial impact that environmental enrichment conditions has on these processes.   Our studies should provide new understanding into epigenetic-based mechanisms underlying neurodegenerative disorders, and broad insights into HAT based drug design for early therapeutic intervention of cognitive deficits.

Denise Garcia
Assistant Professor
PISB 422
Cellular and Molecular Neurobiology
Dr. Daniel Marenda
Associate Professor
PISB 421
Developmental neurobiology and behavior. Modeling Alzheimer’s disease, CHARGE syndrome, and Pitt-Hopkins in Drosophila
Sean O'Donnell, PhD
PISB 321

Animal behavior, neuroecology, social insects, tropical ecology, thermal physiology

Aleister Saunders, PhD
Senior Vice Provost for Research; Professor
104 Left Bank
Biochemistry, Genetics, Molecular/Cellular Biology
Elias Spiliotis, Ph.D.
Associate Professor; Co-Director of the Biology Graduate Program; Director of the Cell Imaging Center
PISB 423
Cell biology, cytoskeleton (microtubules, actin, septins), neuronal and epithelial morphogenesis, spatial regulation of intracellular transport, cell motility and cell division.