Faculty and Research

The Neuroscience training faculty are excellent and well-supported researchers and teachers. The group includes recipients of the National Institutes of Health Javits Awards for excellence in neuroscience, NIH Merit and Career Development Awardees, and Alfred P. Sloan Foundation Fellows.

The training faculty are selected from four basic science and five clinical departments, Biochemistry/Biophysics/Genetics, Cellular and Developmental Biology, Pharmacology, Physiology, Radiology, Medicine, Neurology, and Psychiatry, carrying out their research in close collaboration with their graduate students and postdoctoral associates.

The Neuroscience faculty constitute a good balance of tenured and junior professors.

Research Areas

The Neuroscience Training Program at the University of Colorado provides multidisciplinary training covering the breadth of neurobiology, from neuronal gene regulation to the development, structure, and function of the nervous system. Students receive training in cellular and molecular neurobiology, neural development, neuropharmacology, and biochemistry, as well as hands-on training in a variety of state-of-the-art laboratory techniques.

The tremendous advances in molecular biology during the past few decades have greatly enhanced research in the neurosciences. Specific macromolecules important in neuronal function have been identified and characterized with increasing frequency. The mechanisms by which these molecules act, and the cellular controls over their genetic expression have begun to be elucidated. Our studies are concerned with all of these aspects of molecular neuroscience.

The brain shows a higher complexity in its RNA when compared to other organs. More unique sequence single copy DNA is transcribed and found associated with polysomes in brain than in any other tissue. The functional significance of this complexity is unknown. Many of these mRNAs occur less than one copy per every ten cells, suggesting a high degree of cellular specificity in neural gene expression. How neural gene expression is regulated is an area of active interest among our faculty.

In part neural genes are regulated in response to specific growth factors (e.g., nerve growth factor), hormones, and neurotransmitters. Although some of these molecules act by binding to cytoplasmic receptors, many of them act by binding to specific cell surface receptors, some of which are subsequently internalized as a complex, while others act by transmembrane signalling of their binding via membrane proteins coupled to GTP binding proteins or polyphosphoinositide--diacylglycerol generation. These signalling systems act to alter the activity of intracellular protein kinases, which act to influence gene transcription, ion channels, and neurotransmitter release and reception. The interaction of neurotransmitters and growth factors with their receptors, signal transduction mechanisms and the role of protein phosporylation in the function of specific neural proteins are a major focus of our research.

Recombinant DNA technology and gene cloning procedures are used routinely in many of these studies. The availability of a mouse brain genomic library and expression systems puts essentially every gene of interest within reach, and permits an analysis of gene expression and functional aspects of the gene product.
Cells of the nervous system are some of the most unique cells found in organisms. Many of these cells have evolved sophisticated structures and mechanisms to sense the slightest differences in light, color, sound, taste, smell, touch, etc. The neurons which transmit this information are not only unique cells but are among the most highly specialized of all cells, both structurally and functionally. Long threadlike processes (axons and dendrites) may stretch a meter or more from the cells nucleus, making highly specific synaptic connections with other cells. Functionally these neurons respond by sending electrical signals in the form of action potentials brought about by the opening and closing of specific ion channels. The action potential is rapidly and efficiently transmitted along these delicate processes. At the axon terminus special chemicals (neurotransmitters) are synthesized, packaged and, upon arrival of an action potential, secreted into the synaptic cleft. The secreted neurotransmitters bind to specific receptors on adjacent neurons and modify their electrical and metabolic activity.

The basic mechanisms of these numerous and different ion channels that are responsible for the unique properties of neurons are being actively pursued by our faculty. They are using a variety of biochemical, pharmacological and electrophysiological techniques including patch clamp recording of single ion channels. Neurotransmitter receptors are being localized and quantified in neural tissue using radiolabelled ligands and computer based image processing of autoradiographs. Other faculty are characterizing these sensory cells and their connecting pathways in the CNS with modern electron microscopic, elctrophysiological and immunochemical procedures.
The development of the brain is one of the most complex phenomena in biology. A dynamic interplay between genetic and environmental cues guides the proliferation, migration and differentiation of neurons and glial cells, as well as the outgrowth of axons and their guidance to and recognition of appropriate target cells. From studies of specific molecules to expression of emergent behavior, our faculty are actively involved in developmental neuroscience.

At early times in neural development, proliferating neuroblasts cease dividing in response to yet unknown signals. They then begin to express differentiated properties including axonal outgrowth, and most undergo cell migration. Axon formation is initiated by the post-mitotic neuron and usually proceeds in the direction necessary to reach its appropriate target. The axonal growth cone is the dynamic motile structure that searches out the target. Externally the growth cone possesses neural cell adhesion molecules and other cell recognition molecules that interact with cellular and extracellular molecules to guide the axon toward its synaptic target. Developing and regenerating axonal growth cones possess unique molecules, including a growth associated protein, as well as the ability to secrete proteases such as plasminogen activator; the roles these specific neuronal molecules play in development are areas of active interest among our faculty.

Similarly, the cell recognition mechanisms associated with axonal pathfinding, synaptogenesis, and the molecular and physiological mechanisms for the stabilization of these synapses, as well as the elimination of multiple synapses are major areas of faculty research.
Some of the most obvious, interesting and widespread aspects of behavioral neuroscience are those associated with particular disease states. Especially notable are the movement defects that affect tens of thousands of individuals with Parkinsons disease, and the memory loss and confusion associated with Alzheimers disease in many senior citizens. Both of these disorders reflect the loss of specific cell populations in the substantia nigra and basal forebrain, respectively.

One of the most recent and exciting approaches to the treatment of these disorders is the use of nerve cell transplants. Our faculty have been pioneers in the field of intraocular and brain transplants. Currently they are actively pursuing the use of fetal brain tissue grafts in animal models, to gain a better understanding of the requirements for graft survival and their interaction with host tissues to restore functional behavior in these brain regions.

Other faculty are studying the action of various behavior altering drugs on specific neurons and their electrical and synaptic activity. Their development of miniaturized electrochemical electrodes for monitoring neurotransmitter release in specific brain regions has greatly enhanced such analysis. The biological action of various neuropeptides, specifically those related to pain, are being characterized at the molecular level using modified synthetic peptides in animal models.

Faculty and Research Specializations

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Mazen Al Borno PhD

Assistant Professor
Research Focus: Motor and Cognitive Disorders
Without being conscious of it, our motor system is constantly solving computationally challenging problems in ways that astonish both roboticists and neuroscientists. We develop computational models of animal movement to understand how the brain generates movement and design novel rehabilitation therapies and assistive devices for patients with movement disorders. We collaborate closely with neuroscientists, clinicians and roboticists to study the brain and help patients achieve a better quality of life.

Allyson Alexander MD, PhD

Assistant Professor
Research Focus: Epilepsy
I study basic mechanisms of how epilepsy develops using human and mouse models.

Jason Aoto PhD

Associate Professor Director, Pharmacology Program
Research Focus: Accepting Students Drugs of Abuse Neuropharmacology Optogenetics Psychiatric Disorders & Functional Imaging Signal Transduction Synaptic Signaling and Plasticity
We employ cutting-edge approaches including mouse genetics, optogenetics, viral circuit tracing, ex vivo slice electrophysiology, CRISPR/cas9 genome editing, single-cell RNA-sequencing and super-resolution microscopy to investigate how disease-relevant synaptic molecules are utilized in a cell-type- and synapse-specific manner in neural circuits implicated in neuropsychiatric disorders and addiction.

Bruce Appel PhD

Professor
Research Focus: Accepting Students Development Developmental Biology Developmental Neuroscience
We investigate the genetic, molecular and cellular basis of brain development and myelination using zebrafish as a model system.

Tracy Bale PhD

Professor
Research Focus: Developmental Neuroscience
Developing mouse models of stress sensitivity using genetic and prenatal manipulations to understand the mechanism and heritability for increased susceptibility to neurodevelopmental disorders. Examine the effects of maternal and paternal stress on fetal development and long-term physiological and behavioral responses.

John Bankston PhD

(He/Him/His)
Associate Professor
Research Focus: Accepting Students Cardiovascular/Pulmonary/Renal/GI Physiology Cellular Physiology Ion Channels & Biophysics Macromolecular Structure
We are interested in the molecular mechanisms of cellular excitability in the heart and brain. Our focus is on two different families of ion channels, the acid-sensing ion channels (ASICs) and hyperpolarization-activated cyclic nucleotide-modulated (HCN) channels. We study the structural and physiological mechanisms of channel function for each class of channel including how these channels are regulated by other proteins as well as the lipid membrane. To do this we use a combination of patch clamp, FRET, single-molecule fluorescence, and biochemistry.

Linda Barlow PhD

Professor
Research Focus: Accepting Students Development Developmental Neuroscience Sensory Systems Stem Cells
We use in vivo molecular genetic mouse models, and in vitro taste organoids derived from adult lingual stem cells to understand how taste buds renew during normal homeostasis, and how this regenerative process is impacted by cancer therapies that cause taste dysfunction in patients.

Emily Bates PhD

(She/Her/Hers)
Associate Professor, MOLB Non-Training Faculty Completed Mentor Training Course
Research Focus: Accepting Students Development Developmental Biology Developmental Neuroscience Fly Research Group Genomics Bioinformatics Motor and Cognitive Disorders Other Developmental Disorders Signal Transduction
We study how ion channel activity (bioelectricity) contributes to morphological development in multiple tissues (craniofacial structures, fly wings, brain, pancreas, and bone).

Ulli Bayer PhD

Professor
Research Focus: Accepting Students Down Syndrome & Alzheimer's Ion Channels & Biophysics Motor and Cognitive Disorders Neurobiology of Stroke Neuropharmacology Signal Transduction Synaptic Signaling and Plasticity
Our field is molecular and cellular neuroscience. Specifically, we are interested in the molecular and cellular mechanisms underlying learning, memory and cognition. We also want to know how these mechanisms go wrong in disease, and how this could be repaired by new therapeutic strategies.

Kurt Beam PhD

Distinguished Professor
Research Focus: Ion Channels & Biophysics
My lab investigates intracellular calcium signals, which play essential roles including the activity-dependent regulation of gene expression in diverse cell types, muscle contraction, and neuronal plasticity. We use a variety of techniques including molecular biology, electrophysiology, biochemistry, and analysis of structure.

Timothy Benke MD, PhD

Professor
Research Focus: Accepting Students Developmental Neuroscience Epilepsy Ion Channels & Biophysics Neuropharmacology Other Developmental Disorders Synaptic Signaling and Plasticity
My laboratory studies the function of synapses, the primary means of communication between neurons in the brain. Discoveries include mechanisms for synaptic changes that are likely associated with learning and memory. Research is directed at discovering how synapses change with development and following seizures. Our results are specifically directed to help prevent and treat the effects of early-life seizures (ELS), which can include autism, learning impairment and epilepsy.

Jeffrey Bennett MD, PhD

Professor
Research Focus: Neuroimmunology
My research focuses on antigen identification in optic neuritis, multiple sclerosis, neuromyelitis optica, and ocular inflammatory disorders.

Kimberley Bruce PhD

Associate Professor
Research Focus: Down Syndrome & Alzheimer's Neuroendocrinology Neuropharmacology
Many neurodegenerative diseases such as multiple sclerosis and Alzheimer's disease (AD) are more prevalent in women and have a marked impact on physical and mental health. Female sex is a major risk factor for late-onset AD, and females carrying the APOE4 gene are more likely to develop severe AD. Despite these well-known associations, the reason for this increased risk is unclear. Recent work from Dr. Bruce's laboratory has shown that females have enhanced fat and cholesterol metabolism in specialized brain cells, which may be detrimental in the presence of AD risk factors such as APOE4.

Joseph Brzezinski PhD

Associate Professor
Research Focus: Accepting Students Development Developmental Neuroscience Sensory Systems
We are interested in uncovering the mechanisms that regulate mammalian retinal development and applying this knowledge to inform novel stem cell based treatments that restore vision. We primarily use the mouse as a model system, as its development is similar to human, and because there is a wealth of genetic resources we can utilize.

John Caldwell PhD

Professor
Research Focus: Cell Biology Ion Channels & Biophysics Neuroengineering Optogenetics
Alzheimer’s Disease is associated with plaques of beta amyloid protein in the brain. Beta amyloid is a cleavage product of the amyloid precursor protein (APP). The structure of APP suggests that it acts as an adhesion molecule and/or a signaling receptor, but the normal function of this protein remains unknown. APP is located at synapses in the central and peripheral nervous systems. We are using transgenic mice that express truncated APP to study the role of APP in establishing and maintaining the structure and function of the neuromuscular synapse.​

Jason Christie PhD

Professor
Research Focus: Accepting Students Ion Channels & Biophysics Motor and Cognitive Disorders Neuropharmacology Optogenetics Other Systems Synaptic Signaling and Plasticity
The Christie Lab endeavors to understand the neural-circuit-mechanisms that underlie the learning-dependent optimization of behavior. The lab’s approach mainly focuses on the cerebellum, a brain region that guides adaptive updating of simple reflexive movements as well as experience-driven refinement of high-order brain function (e.g., thinking, planning, and decision making).

Fabrice Dabertrand PhD

Associate Professor
Research Focus: Accepting Students Cardiovascular & Pulmonary Biology Ion Channels & Biophysics Neurobiology of Stroke Neuropharmacology Psychiatric Disorders & Functional Imaging Signal Transduction
The control of cerebral blood flow by ion channels and calcium signaling in the pericytes, endothelial cells, and smooth muscle cells that constitute the parenchymal microcirculation, and use this information to combat brain diseases with a vascular component.

Mark Dell'Acqua PhD

Professor
Research Focus: Accepting Students Down Syndrome & Alzheimer's Ion Channels & Biophysics Motor and Cognitive Disorders Neuropharmacology Signal Transduction Synaptic Signaling and Plasticity
My laboratory’s specific research in the area of neuropharmacology focuses on understanding how cAMP and calcium second messenger signaling pathways are organized at the postsynaptic specializations of excitatory neuronal synapses.

Daniel Denman PhD

Assistant Professor CPBS Associated Faculty
Research Focus: Sensory Systems
We are interested in how populations of neurons generate sensory perceptions. We use quantitative psychophysics, in vivo electrophysiology, in vivo imaging, circuit tracing, and computational methods to study the dynamics of populations of single neurons. We are also focused on how neural interactions specifically - within areas and distributed across the brain - generate successful perceptions.

Caroline Dias MD, PhD

Assistant Professor
Research Focus: Developmental Neuroscience Other Developmental Disorders
The Dias Lab is broadly interested in the genetics of neurodevelopment. We are interested in better understanding the molecular mechanisms of neurodevelopmental disorders, including autism and intellectual disability. In order to do this, we are tackling two major challenges in the field- cellular and clinical heterogeneity.

Robert Dietz MD, PhD

Assistant Professor
Research Focus: Accepting Students Neurobiology of Stroke Neuropharmacology
Strategies for restoration of synaptic plasticity following cerebral ischemia.

David DiGregorio PhD

Visiting Professor and Chair
Research Focus: Motor and Cognitive Disorders Neuropharmacology Signal Transduction Synaptic Signaling and Plasticity
The DiGregorio laboratory studies the role of synaptic and neuronal mechanisms influencing how the brain represents time for executing precise behaviors. Projects in the lab span multiple scales (from molecules to circuits to behavior) but also across multiple disciplines (cellular and molecular neurobiology to theoretical neuroscience).

Gidon Felsen PhD

Professor
Research Focus: Accepting Students Cellular Physiology Molecular Nutrition & Metabolic Systems Motor and Cognitive Disorders Neuroengineering Optogenetics Other Systems
My lab is interested in how the nervous system makes and acts upon decisions. We use electrophysiological, behavioral, pharmacological, molecular, and computational methods to study how sensory representations are transformed into plans for motor output. We are interested in how these processes occur in the normal brain, as well as how they are affected by pathological conditions.

Thomas Finger PhD

Professor
Research Focus: Developmental Neuroscience Other Systems Sensory Systems
A major emphasis in my laboratory is on questions concerning the development and organization of these systems in several vertebrate models. Three major areas are under investigation at present: 1) morphology and function of solitary chemosensory cells (see Finger et al. PNAS 2003) in protection of the airways and gut, 2) the cellular organization and development of taste buds (see Finger et al, Science 2005, and 3) regulation of feeding behavior by taste and other oropharyngeal chemoreceptors.

Christopher Ford PhD

Professor
Research Focus: Accepting Students Drugs of Abuse Ion Channels & Biophysics Motor and Cognitive Disorders Neuropharmacology Optogenetics Psychiatric Disorders & Functional Imaging Signal Transduction Synaptic Signaling and Plasticity
Our lab examines how neuromodulators are encoded in the mesolimbic and nigrostriatal systems and how circuit dysfunctions in these areas contribute to neurological and psychiatric disorders.

Santos Franco PhD

Associate Professor Completed Mentor Training Course.
Research Focus: Accepting Students Development Developmental Neuroscience
The cerebral cortex is the control center of most of our higher-level brain functions, including thought, language, memory and emotion. During cortical development, billions of neurons and glia must be precisely specified and assembled into the intricate circuits that underlie these complex tasks. Disruption of these processes is associated with many devastating human neurological disorders, including epilepsy, schizophrenia, autism and intellectual disability. Our lab studies several processes involved in the formation and function of neural circuits in the cerebral cortex.

Emily Gibson PhD

Associate Professor
Research Focus: Accepting Students Cellular Physiology Neuroengineering Optogenetics
Professor Gibson's lab conducts multidisciplinary research at the intersection of photonics and neuroscience. Our lab develops novel optical devices using multiphoton, superresolution and structured illumination microscopy applied to living systems with the goal of aiding basic neuroscience research and development of clinical tools.

Joshua Gowin PhD

Assistant Professor
Research Focus: Developmental Neuroscience
We are interested in better understanding how brain function relates to an individual’s likelihood for engaging in risky patterns of substance use. We are currently studying adolescents in the transition period after high school to determine whether brain imaging metrics can help predict an individual’s likelihood of developing problematic patterns of use in the future. Future interests include examining the endogenous cannabinoid system to better understand how its function relates to substance use. We are also interested in acute drug administration methods to examine how neurotransmitter systems like dopamine and serotonin impact behavior and overall brain function.

Ann-Charlotte Granholm-Bentley PhD, DDS

(She/Hers)
Professor
Research Focus: Down Syndrome & Alzheimer's Motor and Cognitive Disorders Neuropharmacology
The focus in my laboratory is on neuroplasticity and aging, especially related to neurodegenerative diseases. An important line of work in the lab is to understand biological mechanisms for cognitive impairment in Down Syndrome (DS) and Alzheimer’s disease. The overall goal of the laboratory is to develop treatment strategies for Down syndrome and Alzheimer's disease in animal and human studies, and to develop novel biomarkers that can lead to earlier detection and hence preventative treatment options. We also study intracranial transplantation in Parkinson’s disease, and a third project is focused on biomarkers for sports-related TBI.

Nathaniel Greene PhD

Associate Professor
Research Focus: Neuroengineering Other Systems Sensory Systems
Dr. Greene’s research focuses on the mechanics and physiology of the auditory system and hearing. His lab focuses on the effects of using hearing restoration devices, as well as the mechanisms of hearing loss during high level sound exposure. Studies on hearing restoration devices include investigating the causes of loss of residual acoustic hearing in cochlear implant patients, and transmission of sound via bone conduction. These devices often involve substantial surgical procedures that can cause injurious levels of inner ear stimulation. Likewise, normal use of these devices stimulate the inner ear with indirect, non-ossicular pathways, which can resulting in unexpected interactions and perceptions. Current studies are focusing on quantifying these effects, investigating their sources, and developing strategies to mitigate their negative effects.

Ethan Hughes PhD

(He/Him/His)
Associate Professor Completed Mentor Training Course.
Research Focus: Accepting Students Cell Biology Cellular Structure Motor and Cognitive Disorders Neuroimmunology Optogenetics Synaptic Signaling and Plasticity
The long-term goals of our work are to understand how neuron-glial interactions modulate brain function and contribute to pathology in neurodegenerative disease. Towards this goal, we study the interactions of oligodendrocyte lineage cells with neurons in the adult cerebral cortex.

Matthew Kennedy PhD

Professor
Research Focus: Accepting Students Down Syndrome & Alzheimer's Neuroengineering Neuropharmacology Optogenetics Synaptic Signaling and Plasticity
We study how synapses in the central nervous system are modified by experience, with the ultimate goal of understanding how these mechanisms contribute to normal cognitive function and how they break down in various brain diseases and disorders.

Sue Kinnamon PhD

Professor
Research Focus: Sensory Systems
Research in the Kinnamon laboratory focuses on the mechanisms used by taste receptor cells to detect the sweet, salty, sour, bitter and umami tastes in the foods we eat.

Achim Klug PhD

Professor
Research Focus: Accepting Students Cellular Physiology Neuroengineering Optogenetics Other Systems Sensory Systems
Our laboratory studies the mammalian sound localization pathway, a circuit in the auditory brainstem which is involved in telling us “where” in space a sound is coming from. This circuit is important for an animal or human to localize sound, but it is also important to help us spatially separate multiple simultaneous and competing sounds from each other, and thus help us function in typical “cocktail party” situations. We would like to understand how this circuit operates in the healthy auditory system, and how it changes in medical conditions such as central hearing loss or autism spectrum disorder (ASD).

T. Rajendra Kumar PhD

Professor
Research Focus: Accepting Students Neuroendocrinology Reproductive Biology
The Kumar Laboratory investigates all aspects of gonadotropin biology, including gonadotrope development and tumori​genesis, mechanisms of pituitary gonadotropin subunit gene expression and post-transcriptional regulation, gonadotropin biosynthesis with a focus on age-dependent glycosylation, gonadotropin secretion and action with one focus on somatic cell development and regulation in the gonads and the other on osteoclasts in the bone.

Tatiana Kutateladze PhD

Professor
Research Focus: Accepting Students Cancer Biology Chromosome Biology Gene Regulation Macromolecular Structure Structural Biology
My laboratory investigates molecular mechanisms of epigenetic regulation and the role of chromatin modifications in human diseases. We use high field NMR spectroscopy and X-ray crystallography to obtain atomic-resolution structures of chromatin-binding proteins and complexes involved in transcription and DNA damage repair.

Amanda Law PhD

Professor
Research Focus: Accepting Students Cell Biology Development Motor and Cognitive Disorders
My translational research program focuses on the developmental mechanisms underlying genetic and environmental risk for schizophrenia with the aim of identifying novel biological pathways for treatment development.

Aurelie Ledreux MS, PhD

Associate Professor
Research Focus: Down Syndrome & Alzheimer's Motor and Cognitive Disorders
My current research interests encompass neurodegenerative diseases and healthy brain aging. My lab uses clinical samples as well as animal models to investigate neurodegeneration and neuroinflammation as underlying mechanisms in Alzheimer’s disease, Down syndrome as well as traumatic brain injury.

Kristina Legget PhD

(She/Her/Hers)
Associate Professor
Research Focus: Psychiatric Disorders & Functional Imaging
My research utilizes neuroimaging approaches to understand neuronal circuits and mechanisms that contribute to human obesity. A goal of this work is to understand how different weight loss techniques, such as diet and exercise, affect obesity neurobiology, and how sex and gonadal hormones may influence these effects. I am also interested in the potential for exercise and diet interventions to affect the underlying neurobiology of psychiatric disorders, including schizophrenia and autism spectrum disorders.

Wendy Macklin PhD

Professor
Research Focus: Cell Biology Development Developmental Biology Developmental Neuroscience Gene Regulation Motor and Cognitive Disorders
Our research focuses on the following topics: (1) Signaling mechanisms that regulate oligodendrocyte differentiation and myelination; (2) The impact of ischemia on actively myelinating oligodendrocytes; (3) Demyelination induced by antibodies cloned from multiple sclerosis patients; and (4) Identification of small molecules that enhance oligodendrocyte differentiation.

Anna Malykhina PhD

Professor
Research Focus: Ion Channels & Biophysics Sensory Systems
The research in my laboratory has been continuously funded by the NIH/NIDDK, and we use a variety of “state-of-the-art” techniques including survival rodent surgeries, retrograde fluorescent tracers, pharmacogenetic modulation of neuronal and glial function by DREADDs, immunohistochemistry, awake cystometry, in vitro contractility studies, patch clamp recordings, cell cultures, transcriptomic and proteomic approaches, imaging and behavioral experiments. The laboratory also provides resources and support for training undergraduate and graduate students, residents and postdoctoral fellows interested in urological research.

Jessica Nelson PhD

(She/Hers)
Assistant Professor Completed Mentor Training Course.
Research Focus: Accepting Students Cell Biology Development Developmental Biology Developmental Neuroscience Gene Regulation Sensory Systems Synaptic Signaling and Plasticity
The Nelson Lab is focused on how sensory thresholds are established during development and how sensory processing deficits lead to human neurological disease. We use the larval zebrafish and a set of mutants identified through forward and reverse genetic screens aimed at identifying molecular and cellular mechanisms of sensory threshold establishment during development and sensory threshold plasticity through habituation. To better understand these mechanisms, we use a variety of techniques including behavior recording and analysis, whole brain activity mapping, and pharmacology.

Won Chan Oh PhD

Assistant Professor
Research Focus: Accepting Students Developmental Neuroscience Ion Channels & Biophysics Neuropharmacology Optogenetics Other Developmental Disorders Signal Transduction Synaptic Signaling and Plasticity
We use advanced optical imaging techniques to examine the spatiotemporal mechanisms that govern activity-dependent excitatory and inhibitory synaptic and circuit plasticity in the developing cortex.

Manisha Patel PhD

Professor
Research Focus: Epilepsy Motor and Cognitive Disorders Neuropharmacology
The overarching theme of the Patel laboratory is to understand the role of redox processes and metabolic mechanisms in epilepsy, aging and toxicant-induced brain injury. Using biochemical, metabolic, transgenic and translational approaches, research in the laboratory is focused on three major areas: a) understanding the mechanisms of redox and metabolic dysfunction in response to epileptogenic insults, b) developing neuroprotective drugs and therapies and c) identifying metabolic targets of ketogenic diets.

Anthony Peng PhD

Associate Professor
Research Focus: Ion Channels & Biophysics Sensory Systems
We have an exquisite sense of hearing, where we are able to encode over 12 orders of magnitude in intensity and discriminate between two tones that differ in only 0.2% in frequency. These abilities originate from the auditory periphery’s ability to detect sound. A key process in the detection lies in the mechano-electrical transduction (mechanotransduction) process that happens in the stereocilia hair bundle (highlighted in middle image above). Failures of this process lead to multiple causes of genetic deafness and likely underlie some forms of noise induced and age related hearing loss. In our lab, we are interested in the molecular mechanisms of the mammalian auditory mechanotransduction process. We use state-of-the-art technology to elucidate these mechanisms.

Abigail Person

Professor Co-Director, Neuroscience Program
Research Focus: Motor and Cognitive Disorders Optogenetics Other Systems
Abigail Person's laboratory studies the contribution of the cerebellum to motor control, focusing on circuit mechanisms that support smooth, precise movement. A central idea in cerebellar physiology is that the position of the body is monitored via copies of motor commands conveyed by "corollary discharge pathways". By combining physiology, optogenetics, anatomical methods, and behavior we address how cerebellar circuitry makes movements precise. These topics are at the heart of the role of the cerebellum as a sensorimotor integrator. Disorders of this circuitry are hypothesized to contribute to some aspects of disorders such as autism and schizophrenia as well as broad motor disturbances seen in cerebellar ataxias.

Alon Poleg-Polsky MD, PhD

(He/Him)
Assistant Professor CPBS Associated Faculty
Research Focus: Accepting Students Cellular Physiology Computational Neuroscience Gene Editing Genomics Bioinformatics Ion Channels & Biophysics Neuropharmacology Optogenetics Sensory Systems Synaptic Signaling and Plasticity Visual System
We seek to describe the mechanisms that enable neural circuits to efficiently detect, amplify and transmit relevant information under diverse physiological conditions. This knowledge is required to understand how the healthy brain works and to develop strategies to treat abnormal neurological conditions. To achieve this goal, we combine advanced experimental techniques, computer modeling, and statistical analyses to study signal processing in single cells and neural networks in the retina, where neuronal and network dynamics can be studied in the well-defined context of visual processing.

Huntington Potter PhD

(He/Him)
Professor
Research Focus: Chromosome Biology Down Syndrome & Alzheimer's Motor and Cognitive Disorders
Dr. Potter and other University of Colorado Alzheimer’s and Cognition researchers are developing novel diagnostics and treatments for neurodegenerative diseases including Alzheimer’s disease (AD) and Down syndrome (DS), which invariably leads to AD brain pathology by age 30-40. Research spans multiple approaches from biochemistry, cell and chromosome biology, exosomes, cerebral organoids, drug repurposing, and animal models, and then translating the discoveries into diagnostic and intervention trials in humans. One recombinant protein drug discovered by this process has benefited AD patients in its first clinical trial and is being further tested in AD and DS. Several other molecules show great promise.

Catherine Proenza PhD

Professor
Research Focus: Accepting Students Cardiovascular & Pulmonary Biology Cardiovascular/Pulmonary/Renal/GI Physiology Ion Channels & Biophysics
One major focus of the lab is to understand the molecular basis for pacemaker activity within individual sinoatrial node myocytes (SAMs). To this end, we use patch clamp electrophysiology to record spontaneous action potentials and membrane currents from isolated SAMs from mice. We also use advanced patch clamp techniques like AP clamp and dynamic clamp to isolate and manipulate individual currents in SAMs.

Subbiah Pugazhenthi PhD

Professor
Research Focus: Down Syndrome & Alzheimer's
SIRT3 Deficiency-mediated Metabolic Dysregulation in Comorbid Alzheimer's Disease.

Nidia Quillinan PhD

Associate Professor
Research Focus: Accepting Students Neurobiology of Stroke Neuropharmacology Signal Transduction Synaptic Signaling and Plasticity
The Quillinan laboratory studies excitability and plasticity changes in the brain following cerebral ischemia. We are particularly interested in cerebellar networks that are affected by stroke and cardiac arrest. We also investigate the role of sex hormones and their receptors in acute neuronal injury and longterm hippocampal function.

Tania Reis PhD

Associate Professor Completed Mentor Training Course.
Research Focus: Accepting Students Cell Biology Development Developmental Biology Fly Research Group Genomics Bioinformatics Other Developmental Disorders Other Systems
Our lab is working on three main projects: (1) Identify pathways within the fat body that control organismal fat; (2) Determine the role in body fat regulation of a putative nutrient-responsive modifier of physical activity; and (3) Develop a functional map of neuronal control of body fat.

Katherine Rennie PhD

Associate Professor
Research Focus: Other Systems Sensory Systems Synaptic Signaling and Plasticity
This laboratory's research is focused on hair cells of the vestibular system. The vestibular system of the inner ear senses accelerations of the head and interacts with other systems to produce the sensation of balance. It is estimated that more than one third of adults in the US experience vestibular dysfunction at some time in their life. However the mechanisms underlying normal and abnormal processing of vestibular sensory signals are not well understood. Our research aims to elucidate how signals are processed in the peripheral vestibular system using rodent models.

Diego Restrepo PhD

Professor
Research Focus: Cell Biology Cellular Physiology Development Neuroengineering Optogenetics Other Systems Sensory Systems
I am a systems neuroscientist with a background in physics studying sensory decision making and neurological disorders using novel genomics, transcriptomics, computational neuroscience, automated behavioral testing, advanced neurophotonics and multielectrode arrays. I believe that diversity, equity and inclusion are key in neuroscience inquiry.

Darleen Sandoval PhD

Professor
Research Focus: Accepting Students Molecular Nutrition & Metabolic Systems Neuroendocrinology Other Systems
The Sandoval Lab conducts a variety of research studies focused on the role of the gut-brain-axis on regulating body weight and metabolism with the aim to gain a better understanding the role of the gut-brain axis in physiology and in the pathophysiology of obesity and Type 2 diabetes mellitus. We use a combination of techniques including genetic mouse models, bariatric surgery, and in depth metabolic phenotype including in vivo assessment of glucose and lipid metabolism.

Stephen Santoro PhD

Assistant Professor Completed Mentor Training Course.
Research Focus: Accepting Students Cell Biology Cellular Physiology Development Developmental Biology Developmental Neuroscience Sensory Systems Stem Cells
We are interested in how life experience guides the development and adaptation of the mammalian nervous system. We recently discovered that, in mice, olfactory experience regulates the relative birthrates of the > 1000 distinct olfactory sensory neuron subtypes in an odor-specific manner. These findings have led us to hypothesize that life-long olfactory sensory neurogenesis performs an unknown adaptive role, in addition to the known reparative one. We are currently investigating the mechanism and function of this phenomenon. These studies are anticipated to elucidate fundamental aspects about how the olfactory system develops, adapts, and frequently loses function with age and disease.

Joseph Schacht PhD

Associate Professor
Research Focus: Psychiatric Disorders & Functional Imaging
I am a clinical neuroscientist focused on using neurobiological measures to improve treatment for alcohol and addictive disorders. My training and expertise span behavioral genetics, functional neuroimaging, experimental pharmacology, and “human laboratory” paradigms.

Nathan Schoppa PhD

Professor Co-Director, Neuroscience Program
Research Focus: Ion Channels & Biophysics Optogenetics Sensory Systems Synaptic Signaling and Plasticity
Our lab is interested in understanding mechanisms and function of brain circuits involved in processing olfactory information. Our focus is on two structures, the olfactory bulb and the piriform cortex, asking basic questions about what neurons are present, how they are connected, and how groups of neurons work to effect a particular circuit output.

Tamim Shaikh PhD

Professor Director, Human Medical Genetics and Genomics Program
Research Focus: Down Syndrome & Alzheimer's Motor and Cognitive Disorders Other Developmental Disorders
My research focuses on three major areas; i) Copy Number Variation in Human Disease, ii) Genome Instability and Mechanisms of Rearrangement and iii) Discovery and Functional Characterization of Candidate Disease Genes.

Julie Siegenthaler PhD

Associate Professor
Research Focus: Accepting Students Development Developmental Neuroscience
Our lab studies the interplay between the CNS and its vital support structures the meninges and the brain vasculature. We have meninges and brain vascular projects in CNS development, the adult brain and CNS injury and disease.

Katharine Smith PhD

Associate Professor
Research Focus: Accepting Students Ion Channels & Biophysics Motor and Cognitive Disorders Neurobiology of Stroke Neuropharmacology Psychiatric Disorders & Functional Imaging Synaptic Signaling and Plasticity
Research in our lab is focused on understanding how the excitability of neurons is regulated by excitatory and inhibitory synaptic plasticity. Many neuropsychiatric diseases and brain pathologies exhibit alterations in neuronal excitability in key brain regions associated with learning and memory. Our goal is to understand the molecular mechanisms of how excitatory and inhibitory synapses function together to maintain appropriate excitability of the neuron, and how this is disrupted in diseases such as autism and schizophrenia. To reach this goal we image both excitatory and inhibitory synapses using cutting-edge microscopy, including super-resolution imaging, supported by electrophysiology and biochemical analysis.

Joel Stoddard MD

Associate Professor
Research Focus: Developmental Neuroscience
Dr. Stoddard is interested in understanding and developing experimental, learning-based therapies for emotional problems, such as severe irritability, that affect children and adolescents. He applies clinical phenotyping, psychometrics, functional magnetic resonance imaging, and computational modeling in his work

John Thompson PhD

Associate Professor
Research Focus: Motor and Cognitive Disorders Neuroengineering Other Systems
The goal of research in my lab is to understand how the central nervous system converts incoming sensory stimuli into motor commands in human subjects. I have established robust collaborations with clinicians in the Departments of Neurology and Neurosurgery focused on human neuroscience that combines neuroimaging, neurophysiology, and behavior. In addition, I have built a highly successful computational neuroscience lab based on the acquisition and analysis of invasive human electrophysiology, including single neuron recordings from deep brain stimulation patients and multi-electrode local field potential recordings from patients with refractory epilepsy. This effort is twofold, to improve treatment and therapeutic outcomes as well as improve our understanding of normal and pathological brain function.

Scott Thompson PhD

Professor
Research Focus: Neuropharmacology Psychiatric Disorders & Functional Imaging Synaptic Signaling and Plasticity
Our mission is to discover the changes that occur in the brain in patients with major depression so that we can identify better therapies to treat depression.

Slobodan Todorovic MD, PhD

Professor
Research Focus: Accepting Students Ion Channels & Biophysics Neuropharmacology Sensory Systems Signal Transduction
The role of T-type (low-voltage-activated, LVA) calcium channels in the molecular mechanisms of anesthesia and analgesia.

Daniel Tollin PhD

Professor
Research Focus: Developmental Neuroscience Neuroengineering Other Developmental Disorders Other Systems Sensory Systems
The role of auditory environmental experience, both normal and abnormal, on the development and maintenance of auditory function.

Jason Tregellas PhD

Professor
Research Focus: Psychiatric Disorders & Functional Imaging
Dr. Tregellas’ research career has focused on understanding the neurobiology of disorders such as schizophrenia, and on processes related to food intake behaviors and obesity.

Ming-Feng Tsai PhD

Assistant Professor
Research Focus: Accepting Students Ion Channels & Biophysics Signal Transduction
My research focuses on molecular mechanisms and physiological functions of transporters and ion-channels, particularly those in mitochondria. We approach questions using a wide range of tools, including membrane-biochemistry, electrophysiology, cryo-electron microscopy, animal models, and imaging.

Kenneth Tyler MD

Professor
Research Focus: Neurovirology
His laboratory uses a variety of neurotropic viruses, including reoviruses, Enterovirus D-68, and Flaviviruses (West Nile, Japanese encephalitis and Zika) to study the pathogenesis of viral CNS infections. A particular interest has been in understanding the nature of specific cellular pathways (signaling, gene expression, apoptosis) that are activated during neurotropic viral infections and that lead to neuronal injury and death. The laboratory uses primary cell cultures, ex vivo slice cultures of brain and spinal cord, and murine models to study virus-cell interactions.

Kristin Uhler PhD

Associate Professor
Research Focus: Sensory Systems
I am interested in language development in children with and without hearing loss. My focus is developing approaches to determine how infants discriminate speech sounds and discrimination in early infancy and how this relates to later language development.

Sukumar Vijayaraghavan PhD

Professor
Research Focus: Ion Channels & Biophysics Neuropharmacology Optogenetics Sensory Systems Synaptic Signaling and Plasticity
We are a lab that works on cholinergic signaling in the mammalian brain. Cholinergic systems, via the actions of released acetylocholine, are thought to play an essential role in behaviors involving attention, learning and memory. Impairment of cholinergic signaling is implicated in many neurodegenerative diseases likes Alzheimer's and Parkinson's; and in psychiatric disorders like schizophrenia. However, we know very little about mechanisms underlying signaling by this important neurotransmitter. Our lab strives to remedy this deficit in our knowledge.

Cristin Welle PhD

Associate Professor
Research Focus: Motor and Cognitive Disorders Neuroengineering Other Developmental Disorders Sensory Systems
Dr. Welle’s BIOElectrics Lab investigates how neurological medical devices interact with the nervous system. We dissect circuit-level structural and functional implications of neuromodulatory and brain-computer-interface devices using optogenetics, chronic electrophysiology and longitudinal in-vivo imaging in animal models. Our goal is to understand the dynamic interactions between devices and neural circuits in the context of translational neurotechnology.

Alison Xie PhD

Assistant Professor
Research Focus: Other Systems
Patients with urological chronic pelvic pain syndrome (UCPPS) experience chronic pelvic pain (CPP) and lower urinary tract symptoms (LUTS). The UCPPS symptoms are closely associated with nociceptive sensitization in the nervous system, which underlies visceral allodynia and hyperalgesia. Previous studies suggested that afferent hypersensitivity in bladder-projecting sensory neurons plays an important role in the generation and the maintenance of UCPPS symptoms, especially bladder pain and urinary frequency. As a glia biologist, I am interested in the neuromodulatory role of peripheral glial fibrillary acidic protein-expressing (GFAP+) glia in micturition and their therapeutic potential in benign bladder disorder.

Faculty Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Training Reporting

The CU Anschutz School of Medicine (SOM) encourages faculty to pursue training in diversity, equity, and inclusion topics. Faculty members may report their training to the SOM using the Faculty Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Training Reporting form.
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