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Francis Sessler

Francis Sessler, PhD


Department: Neurobiology & Anatomy


  • PhD - University of Pierre & Marie Curie, Paris

Awards & Honors

  • Several Golden Apple Awards for excellence in teaching Medical Neuroscience and Foundations of Basic Science
  • Angelo Pinto, PhD, Basic Science Educator Awards
  • Christian R. and Mary F. Lindback Foundation Award for Distinguished Teaching

Francis M. Sessler, PhD, is a professor in the Department of Neurobiology and Anatomy at Drexel University College of Medicine. Currently, most of his effort is devoted to teaching, and designing web applications and other network-based teaching resources.

Teaching Overview

  • Course co-director for Human Structure and Function I in Foundations and Frontiers
  • Thread director for Medical Neuroscience in Foundations and Frontiers
  • Course co-director for Medical Neuroscience (graduate course)
  • Course co-director for senior year Neuroscience elective
  • Course co-director for Medical Neuroscience Summer Remediation Course

Educational Materials Created

  • Brain Atlas: A web-based interactive atlas providing labeled and unlabeled digitized pictures of horizontal and cross sections throughout the brain (spinal cord, brainstem, diencephalon, telencephalon).
  • Brain Review in Diagrams: A web-based interactive program allowing students to review in diagrams the main structures, functions and pathways they learned in Medical Neuroscience.
  • Neurosciences animations: Web-based animation simulating the dorsal column pathways, the anterolateral system pathways, corticospinal pathways, myotatic reflex and phototransduction.
  • Tutorials in Neuroscience (HTML + flash): These tutorials provide standalone interactive web courses focusing on specific topics (Gross Brain Lab, Spinal cord, Pathways, Brainstem Anatomy, Brainstem Cranial Nerves, Brainstem Vascular Lesions, Cerebellum, Basal Ganglia, Memory Circuit, Emotion Circuit, Reward Circuit, Prefrontal Cortex, Cerebral Cortex, Hypothalamus). They are used to support the teaching of Medical Neuroscience.
  • Game/Quiz: Provides board games for up to four players with questions about Medical Neurosciences: Spinal Cord Board Game, Brainstem Board Game.
  • Summer Remediation Course in Medical Neuroscience: A web-based pilot course designed to remediate students who have failed the primary course in Medical Neuroscience (composed with Dr. Shumsky); the course is open to students from all medical schools.


Dr. Sessler completed postdoctoral training at the University of Michigan, where he investigated the physiological role of renin isoforms in different models of hypertension, and at the University of Texas Health Sciences Center in Dallas, where he studied the neuromodulatory actions of monamines in the hypothalamus. As a researcher at Hahnemann University, he further explored the actions of monoamines and drugs of abuse in circuit function of the cerebellum, hippocampus and cerebral cortex.

In the Media


Selected Publications

"Design and evaluation of a web-based medical neuroscience remediation course"
Shumsky JS and Sessler FM 
AAMC Annual Conference on Research in Medical Education (RIME), 2011.

"Medical neuroscience teaching: a web-based summer course to remediate medical neuroscience"
Shumsky JS, and Sessler FM
Soc. Neurosci. Abstr. 2009.

"Medical neuroscience teaching: relationship between usage of web teaching resources and performances at exams"
Shumsky J, Murphy H and Sessler FM
Soc. Neurosci. Abstr. 2007.

"Medical neuroscience teaching: facilitation of a program for integrated learning through technology and web support"
Shumsky J, Murphy H and Sessler FM
Soc. Neurosci. Abstr. 2004.

"Differential modulatory effects of norepinephrine on synaptically driven responses of layer V barrel field cortical neurons"
Waterhouse BD, Mouradian R, Sessler FM and Lin RC
Brain Res. 868 (39-47), 2000.

"The hNT human neuronal cell line survives and migrates into rat retina"
Konobu T, Sessler F, Luo LY and Lehmann J
Cell Transplantation 7 (549-558), 1998.

"New perspectives on the functional organization and postsynaptic influences of the locus ceruleus efferent projection system"
Waterhouse BD, Devilbiss D, Fleischer D, Sessler FM and Simpson KL
Advances in Pharmacol. 42 (749-754), 1998.

"Effects of ethanol on rat somatosensory cortical neurons"
Sessler FM, Hsu FC, Felder TN, Zhai J, Lin RC, Wieland SJ and Kosobud AEK
Brain Res. 804 (266-274), 1998.

"Endogenous glutamate levels regulate nerve growth factor mRNA expression in the rat dentate gyrus"
Gwag BJ, Sessler FM, Robine V and Springer JE
Molecules & Cells 7 425-430, 1997.

"Chronic cocaine intoxication alters hippocampal sodium channel function"
Zhai J, Wieland SJ and Sessler FM
Neurosci. Lett. 229 1-4, 1997.

"Noradrenergic enhancement of GABA induced input resistance changes in layer V regular spiking pyramidal neurons of rat somatosensory cortex"
Sessler FM, Liu W, Kirifides ML, Mouradian RD, Lin CS and Waterhouse BD
Brain Research 675 (171-182), 1995.

"Neurotrophic factor mRNA expression in dentate gyrus is increased following angular bundle transection"
Gwag BJ, Sessler FM, Kimmerer KM and Springer JE
Brain Research 647 (23-29), 1994.

"Neurotrophic factor mRNA expression in dentate gyrus is increased following in vivo stimulation of the angular bundle"
Springer JE, Gwag BJ and Sessler FM
Mol. Brain Res. 23 (135-143), 1994.

"Alterations in noradrenergic physiological response characteristics after chronic NA diet and high blood pressure: Interaction between norepinephrine and GABA in rat lateral hypothalamus"
Sessler FM, Mah E and Grady SM
Brain Research 613 (259-268), 1993.

"Regulation of nerve growth factor mRNA expression in the hippocampal formation: Effects of N methyl D aspartate receptor activation"
Gwag BJ, Sessler FM, Waterhouse BD and Springer JE
Exp. Neurol. 121 (160-171), 1993.

"Electrophysiological actions of VIP in rat somatosensory cortex"
Sessler FM, Grady SM, Waterhouse BD and Moises HC
Peptides 12 (715-721), 1991.

"Cocaine actions in a central noradrenergic circuit: enhancement of cerebellar Purkinje neuron responses to iontophoretically applied GABA"
Waterhouse BD, Stowe ZN, Jimenez Rivera CA, Sessler FM and Woodward DJ
Brain Research 546 (297-309), 1991.

"Noradrenergic potentiation of excitatory transmitter action in cerebrocortical slices: Evidence for mediation by an α1 receptor linked second messenger pathway"
Mouradian RD, Sessler FM and Waterhouse BD
Brain Research 546 (83-95), 1991

"Glial cells contain the preponderance of beta adrenoceptors in rat forebrain slices"
Stone EA, Sessler FM and Liu W
Brain Res. 530 (295-300), 1990.

"Noradrenergic potentiation of cerebellar Purkinje cell responses to GABA: Evidence for mediation through the beta adrenoceptor coupled cyclic AMP system."
Sessler FM, Mouradian RD, Cheng JT, Yeh HH and Waterhouse BD
Brain Res. 499 (27-38), 1989.

"New evidence for a gating action of norepinephrine in central neuronal circuits of mammalian brain"
Waterhouse BD, Sessler FM, Cheng JT, Woodward DJ, Azizi SA and Moises HC
Brain Res. Bull. 21 (425-432), 1988.

"Multiple renin forms in the adrenal gland"
Kim SH, Sessler FM and Malvin RL
Am. J. Physiol. 255 (E531-E536), 1988.

"Electrophysiological actions of norepinephrine in rat lateral hypothalamus: I. Norepinephrine induced modulation of LH neuronal responsiveness to afferent synaptic inputs and putative neurotransmitters"
Sessler FM, Cheng JT and Waterhouse BD
Brain Research 446 (77-89), 1988.

"Electrophysiological actions of norepinephrine in rat lateral hypothalamus: II. An in vitro study of the effects of iontophoretically applied norepinephrine on LH neuronal responses to gamma aminobutyric acid (GABA)"
Cheng JT, Sessler FM, Azizi SA, Chapin JK and Waterhouse BD
Brain Res. 446 (90-105), 1988.

Books, chapters:

"Neuronal activity regulates nerve growth factor mRNA expression in the adult rat hippocampal formation"
Springer JE, Sessler FM and Gwag BJ
In Neurobehavioral plasticity: Learning, Development, and Response to Brain Insults. (N.E. Spear, L.P. Spear and M.L. Woodruff, eds.). Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, Publishers, Hillsdale New Jersey; pp249-261, 1995.

"Second messenger mediated actions of norepinephrine on target neurons in central circuits: A new perspective on intracellular mechanisms and functional consequences"
Waterhouse BD, Sessler FM, Liu W and Lin CS
In: Neurobiology of the Locus Coeruleus (C.D. Barnes and O. Pompeiano, eds.). Elsevier Science Publishers, Amsterdam, The Netherlands. Progress in Brain Research 88, pp351-362, 1991.

Contact Information

Department of Neurobiology & Anatomy
2900 W. Queen Lane
Philadelphia, PA 19129
Phone: 215.991.8489
Fax: 215.843.9082