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A. Denise R. Garcia

A. Denise R. Garcia, PhD

Associate Professor

Department: Neurobiology & Anatomy


  • PhD - Neurobiology, University of CA, Los Angeles
  • BS - Biology, specialization in Neuroscience, University of CA, Irvine

A. Denise R. Garcia, PhD, is an associate professor in the Department of Neurobiology & Anatomy at Drexel University College of Medicine.

Research Overview

Understanding how the nervous system is assembled and organized at the cellular and synaptic level is key to unlocking brain function. Work in our lab is focused on studying astrocytes, a specialized class of non-neuronal cells in the nervous system known as glia, and their roles in regulating the formation and function of developing neural circuits in the healthy and diseased or injured brain.

Research Interests

Neurodevelopment, astrocyte biology


We have three active lines of investigation in the lab.

Astrocyte - neuron interactions. Astrocytes are essential for synaptic formation and closely monitor synaptic activity to ensure proper function. The goal of this project is to understand the underlying molecular and cellular mechanisms that mediate these processes.

Astrocyte development. The underlying principles governing the development maturation of astrocytes are not well understood. Our work aims to address basic questions surrounding astrocyte development, including how they are patterned and arranged in the cortex.

Astrocyte heterogeneity. Despite the long-standing appreciation for the relative structural and functional diversity of neurons, the concept of astrocyte diversity has only recently gained recognition. Studies in this project are aimed at understanding differential gene expression programs between different populations of astrocytes and how these programs contribute to specialized functional properties.

To address these questions, we use a combination of mouse molecular genetics together with advanced imaging of fixed and living tissues by confocal and two-photon microscopy.

Please visit our lab website to learn more.


“Astrocyte development – more questions than answers”
Markey K.M., Saunders J.C., Smuts J., von Reyn C.R., Garcia A.D.R.
Frontiers in Cell and Developmental Biology. 11:1063843. doi: 10.3389/fcell.2023.1063843 (2023)

“Sonic hedgehog-dependent recruitment of GABAergic interneurons into the developing visual thalamus”
Somaiya R.D., Stebbins K., Gingrich E.C., Xie H., Garcia A.D.R., Campbell J.N., Fox M.A.
eLife, 11:e79833. doi: 10.7554/eLife.79833. PMID: 36342840 (2022)

“A subpopulation of astrocyte progenitors defined by Sonic hedgehog signaling”
Gingrich E.C., Case K., Garcia A.D.R.
Neural Dev. Jan 14;17(1):2. PMID: 35027088 (2022)

“New tricks for an old (hedge)hog: Sonic hedgehog regulation of astrocyte function”
Garcia A.D.R.
Cells. May 30;10(6):1353. PMID: 34070740 (2021)

“Sonic hedgehog signaling in astrocytes”
Hill S., Fu M., Garcia A.D.R.
Cell and Molecular Life Sciences. Feb;78(4):1393-1403. PMID: 33079226 (2021)

“Sonic hedgehog signaling in astrocytes mediates cell type specific synaptic organization”
Hill S.*, Blaeser A.*, Coley A.A., Xie Y., Shepard K.A., Harwell C.C., Gao W-J., Garcia A.D.R.
eLife, 8:e45545. PMID: 31194676 (2019)

“Sonic hedgehog signaling is negatively regulated in reactive astrocytes after forebrain stab injury”
Allahyari, R.V., Clark K.L., Shepard K.A., Garcia A.D.R.
Sci. Rep. 9(1):565. PMID: 30679745 (2019)

“The elegance of sonic hedgehog: Emerging novel functions for a classic morphogen”
Garcia A.D.R., Han Y-G., Triplett, J, Farmer W.T., Ihrie R.A., Harwell, C.C.
J. Neurosci. 38(44):9338-9345. doi: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.1662-18.2018 PMID: 30381425 (2018)

“Degradation of dendritic cargos requires Rab7-dependent transport to somatic lysosomes”
Yap C.C., Digilio L., McMahon L.P., Garcia A.D.R., Winckler B.
J. Cell Bio. 217(9):3141-3159. PMID: 29907658 (2018)

“Triggering reactive gliosis in vivo by a forebrain stab injury”
Allahyari, R.V., Garcia A.D.R.
JoVE. PMID: 26167674 (2015)

“Titration of GLI3 repressor activity by sonic hedgehog signaling is critical for maintaining multiple adult neural stem cell and astrocyte functions”
Petrova R., Garcia A.D.R., Joyner A.L.
J. Neurosci. 33(44):17490-505. PMID: 24174682 (2013)

“Sonic hedgehog regulates discrete populations of astrocytes in the adult mouse forebrain”
Garcia A.D.R., Petrova, R., Eng L., Joyner A.L.
J. Neurosci., 30(41):13597-608. PMID: 20943901 (2010)