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Program Mentors

Program Mentors

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Kendal Broadie, Ph.D.

Professor of Biological Sciences
Professor of Pharmacology
Professor of Cell & Developmental Biology

Academic Interests: Nervous System Development, Including Neuronal Pathfinding, Target Recognition and Synaptogenesis


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Ana Carneiro, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor of Pharmacology

Academic Interests: Conserved Protein Networks That Regulate Cell-Cell Communication in Brain Synapses


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Bruce Carter, Ph.D.

Professor of Biochemistry

Academic Interests: Molecular Mechanisms of Neurotrophin Signaling


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Dane Chetkovich, Ph.D

Professor of Neurology
Department Chair of Neurology

Academic Interests: Dr. Chetkovich’s research laboratory is focused on the molecular mechanisms that underlie the targeting of ion channels to synapses and other specialized areas of neurons.  In particular, Dr. Chetkovich’s laboratory a multi-faceted approach, including electrophysiological, biochemical, molecular biology tools and gene therapy regulation of voltage-gated ion channels and how regulation of these channels may play a role in neuropsychiatric diseases such as epilepsy, autism and major depressive disorder.


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Chin Chiang, Ph.D.

Professor of Cell & Developmental Biology

Academic Interests: Early development of the central nervous system, and the role of Sonic Hedgehog in these processes and in cancer


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Roger Colbran, Ph.D.

Professor of Molecular Physiology & Biophysics

Academic Interests: Structure, Function and Subcellular Targeting of Ca2+/calmodulin-Dependent Protein Kinase II in Health and Disease


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P. Jeffrey Conn, Ph.D.

Lee E. Limbird Professor of Pharmacology
Director, Center for Neuroscience Drug Discovery

Academic Interests: Cellular/Molecular Mechanisms of Regulation of Neuronal Function; Novel Treatments for CNS Disorders


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Eric Delpire, Ph.D.

Professor of Anesthesiology
Professor of Molecular Biology & Biophysics

Academic Interests: Molecular Physiology of CNS and PNS Cation-Chloride Cotransporters


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Ronald Emeson, Ph.D.

Joel G. Hardman Professor of Pharmacology
Professor of Molecular Biology & Biophysics
Professor of Psychiatry
Associate Director, Vanderbilt Brain Institute

Academic Interests: Molecular Neurobiology; Gene Expression; Receptor Diversity; Neurotransmitters; RNA Editing; Knockout


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Kevin Ess, M.D., Ph.D.

Director, Division of Pediatric Neurology
Associate Professor of Pediatrics,
Associate Professor of Cell & Developmental Biology,
Gerald M. Fenichel Chair in Neurology

Academic Interests: Mechanisms of cortical development using mouse models and human induced pluripotent stem cells (iPCs)


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Todd Graham, Ph.D.

Professor, Biological Sciences
Professor, Cell and Developmental Biology

Academic Interests: The research goals of the Graham laboratory are to understand the molecular mechanisms underpinning vesicle-mediated protein transport and membrane biogenesis. Most of our effort is focused on determining how type IV P-type ATPases (P4-ATPases) contribute to the establishment of membrane asymmetry and budding of transport vesicles from organelle membranes using the yeast model system.


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Brad Grueter, Ph.D.

Professor of Anesthesiology

Academic Interests: Neuroscience, motivation, reward, synapse, neurotransmission, synaptic plasticity


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Eugenia Gurevich, Ph.D.

Associate Professor of Pharmacology

Academic Interests: Role of Dopamine Receptor Trafficking in Neural Pathology and Development


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Heidi Hamm, Ph.D.

Professor of Pharmacology

Academic Interests: Understanding the molecular basis of signaling mechanisms mediated by G proteins, which are switch proteins. G proteins are normally inactive, but a receptor that has received a specific signal can activate G proteins, leading to changes in the activity of enzymes that produce second messengers such as cyclic AMP and calcium.


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Fiona Harrison, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor of Medicine, Diabetes, Endocrinology & Metab Division

Academic Interests: Antioxidants, vitamin C, vitamin E, oxidative stress, animal behavior, learning and memory, Alzheimer’s disease, prenatal development, neuroscience


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Rebecca Ihrie, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor of Cell and Developmental Biology
Assistant Professor of Neurological Surgery

Academic Interests: We study the biology of brain tumors and the properties of stem cells in normal brain.


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Lauren Jackson, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor, Biological Sciences

Academic Interests: Our research focuses on the structures and functions of proteins and protein complexes involved in cellular transport, or trafficking. We use a variety of structural, biochemical, and biophysical techniques in order to understand the mechanisms by which cells control their internal transport logistics and ensure key transmembrane protein cargoes are moved to the correct spatial location in a timely fashion.


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Carrie Jones, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor of Pharmacology

Academic Interests: As noted on her faculty page on the Vanderbilt Center for Neuroscience Drug Discovery, her “In Vivo Pharmacology team is dedicated to utilizing translational approaches, including assessment of changes in behavior, neurochemistry and imaging endpoints such as PET and functional MRI, to explore the underlying mechanisms of novel ligands targeting different G protein-coupled receptors (GPCR) and transporters within the CNS and the implications of these effects on different disease states, most notably schizophrenia.”


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Jing-Qiong Kang, Ph.D., M.D.

Associate Professor of Pharmacology
Associate Professor of Neurology

Academic Interests:  GABAA receptors, GABAergic signaling, Underlying mechanisms of epilepsy, autism, brain development


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Ela Knapik, M.D.

Associate Professor of Medicine
Associate Professor of Cell & Developmental Biology

Academic Interests: Developmental, genetic, molecular and biochemical aspects of craniofacial morphogenesis


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Mark Magnuson, M.D.

Professor of Molecular Physiology & Biophysics
Professor of Cell & Developmental Biology
Louise B. McGavock Chair Professor of Medicine

Academic Interests: Interaction of genetic and epigenetic factors to mantain pancreatic cellular identities


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Douglas McMahon, Ph.D.

Professor of Biological Sciences
Professor of Pharmacology
Chair, Department of Biological Sciences

Academic Interests: Molecular Neurobiology of the Visual, Circadian, and Serotonergic Systems and Their Interactions


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David Miller, Ph.D.

Professor of Cell & Developmental Biology
Professor of Biological Science

Academic Interests: Molecular Genetics of Neural Specificity in a Nematode Model


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Lisa Marie Monteggia, Ph.D.

Professor of Pharmacology
Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences


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Jeffrey Neul, Ph.D., M.D.

Annette Schaffer Eskind Chair in the Vanderbilt Kennedy Center
Professor of Pharmacology

Academic Interests: Rett syndrome, Neurodevelopmental Disorders, Neurology, Neuroscience, Genetics, Epigenetics, Autism, Kennedy Center, Epilepsy, Preclinical, Translational, pluripotent stem cells, disease models, autonomic nervous system, breathing, apnea, hyperventilation, cardiac arrhythmia, sudden death, clinical trials, read-through drugs, growth factors, plasticity


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Kevin Niswender, M.D., Ph.D.

Associate Professor of Medicine
Associate Professor of Molecular Physiology & Biophysics

Academic Interests: Diabetes, Endocrinology, and Metabolism


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Sachin Patel, M.D., Ph.D.

Assistant Professor of Psychiatry
Assistant Professor of Molecular Physiology & Biophysics

Academic Interests: The Role of Endocannabinoids in Stress-Induced Neuroadaptation


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Erin Siciliano Calipari, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor of Pharmacology

Academic Interests: Our research seeks to characterize and modulate the precise circuits in the brain that underlie both adaptive and maladaptive processes in reward, motivation, and associative learning, to develop improved treatments for complex and devastating psychiatric disorders.

Our research is guided by two overarching questions:

1. How do neural circuits integrate experiences with positive and negative stimuli to guide future behavior?

2. What are the molecular dysregulations that drive maladaptation in these processes?

One of the most fundamental forms of learning is the ability to associate positive and negative stimuli with cues that predict their occurrence. The ability to seek out rewarding stimuli and avoid negative stimuli is critical to survival and is evolutionarily conserved across species. Organisms achieve this by assigning value to cues that predict these stimuli; however, dysregulation of these processes can precipitate a number of psychiatric disease states. Addiction, depression, and anxiety are all examples of syndromes characterized in part by dysregulation of associative learning. These are among the most prevalent neuropsychiatric disorders and are highly comorbid. Therefore, understanding the neural mechanisms governing associative learning has widespread implications for developing treatment interventions for psychiatric disease. Our work aims to combine cutting edge technology with comprehensive models of psychiatric disease to understand the circuit and molecular dysregulation that underlies these disorders.

 


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Richard Simerly, Ph.D.

Professor of Molecular Physiology and Biophysics
Louise B. McGavok Chair in Molecular Physiology and Biophysics

Academic Interests:  We study how environmental factors, such as nutrition and hormones, impact the development of neural circuits that control behavior and metabolism in order to better understand how early events in an individual’s life influence traits like feeding and metabolic physiology.


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Danny Winder, Ph.D.

Professor of Molecular Physiology & Biophysics

Academic Interests: Synaptic Mechanisms in Addiction and Anxiety