Members A-D

Members by last name: A—D  |  E—K  |  L—Q  |  R—Z  |  Leadership

Ted Abel, PhD

Ted Abel, PhD

Director - Iowa Neuroscience Institute

Departments of Molecular Physiology and Biophysics, Psychiatry, Biochemistry, and Psychological and Brain Sciences

The primary focus of research in the Abel lab is to understand the cellular and molecular mechanisms of long-term memory storage with a focus on the mammalian hippocampus. One of the hallmarks of long-term memory storage is that it requires the synthesis of new genes and new proteins, which act to alter the strength of synaptic connections within appropriate neuronal circuits in the brain. How are the various signals acting on a neuron integrated to give rise to appropriate changes in gene expression? How are changes in gene expression maintained to sustain memories for days, months and even years? What role does sleep play in memory storage? How is hippocampal function altered in mouse models of psychiatric and neurodevelopmental disorders?

Chris Ahern, PhD

Christopher A. Ahern, PhD

Department of Molecular Physiology and Biophysics

The Ahern lab uses chemical biology to study the ion channel proteins that support human motion, thought and the perception of our environment.  Inherited or acquired defects in ion channels cause a myriad of human diseases - such as epilepsy, pain syndromes, cognitive disabilities and muscle disorders - making them high value targets for therapeutic development.  We currently employ atomic scale analysis of ion channels through the synthesis and encoding of tailor-made amino acids with new functionalities, thus keeping pace with ongoing structural and computational breakthroughs.  We are currently focused on understanding how sodium channels are trafficking and composed in neuronal tissues, the basis for voltage-dependent gating, and elucidating the mechanisms of new therapeutics for pain management – with an eye adapting our chemical approaches to complex cell types and model systems. 

Nikolai Artemyev, PhD

Nikolai O. Artemyev, PhD

Department of Molecular Physiology and Biophysics

The major research interest in the Artemyev Lab is in understanding the molecular mechanisms of sensory signal transduction via heterotrimeric GTP-binding proteins. Heterotrimeric GTP-binding proteins (G proteins) transduce a variety of signals from specific cell surface receptors to intracellular effector proteins. The laboratory utilizes one of the best model systems for studying the mechanisms of G protein signaling - the rod photoreceptor visual transduction cascade. Mutations in genes encoding key signaling molecules in photoreceptor cells are often associated with severe retinal disorders. A secondary focus is understanding the mechanisms whereby mutant forms of phototransduction proteins cause retinal diseases.

Jose Assouline, PhD

Jose Assouline, PhD

Department of Biomedical Engineering

The Assouline Lab is focused on discovery of innovative and technologically advanced ways to diagnose and treat neurological diseases.  One approach is to select appropriate molecular makers (immunological and viral methods). It has been a life-long quest to use non-toxic markers which could be used simultaneously in vitro and in vivo. Our work has focused on silica-based nanoparticles as an ideal molecule for the dual purpose of diagnostic and therapeutic. Applications of this novel nanotechnology in our laboratories are aimed to elucidate fundamental aspects of neural regeneration, malignancy, demyelination diseases and environmental neuro-toxicity. Current ongoing research is dedicated to the improvement of quantitative, real-time measurement of disease processes with specifically targeted nanoparticles.   

Kin Fai Au, PhD

Kin Fai Au, PhD

Department of Internal Medicine - Bioinformatics and Computational Biology

The Au Lab is interested in methodology research of Third Generation Sequencing (TGS) (especially for PacBio and Oxford Nanopore sequencing) and is working on both hybrid sequencing (Second Generation Sequencing (SGS) + TGS) and TGS-alone methodology research. Our research interests include but not limited to alternative splicing, isoform construction, gene fusion and quantitative analysis.  Stem cell transcriptome analysis - Au lab is applying the hybrid sequencing method on ESC, iPSC and preimplantation embryo, to deeply study the transcriptome differences between stem cells.  Proteomics - Protein identification and novel splice detections from tandem Mass Spec are our research interests. Au lab is developing statistical methods for Integration of Mass Spec and sequencing data, in order to solve difficult proteomics problems.  In addition, we are interested in the methodology research of gene regulatory network and RNA editing.

S Baker

Sheila Baker, PhD

Departments of Biochemistry, Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences

The Baker Lab is currently focused on two fundamental questions: how do different ion channels get localized to the correct part of these sensory neurons; and how is the development of the ribbon synapse orchestrated? Vision begins with the capture of photons by photoreceptors, structurally and functionally fine-tuned sensory neurons lining the back of the retina. Photoreceptors are arranged as a linear set of compartments each responsible for photon capture, energy production, membrane potential regulation, homeostasis, or communication. In many respects photoreceptors are extremely fragile and surprisingly work “backwards” from other types of neurons – for instance light does not cause release of neurotransmitter from the synapse, it stops it. Unraveling the details of photoreceptor cellular and molecular biology is needed to improve our ability to save and restore sight. 

Joe Barrash

Joseph Barrash, PhD

Departments of Neurology and Psychological and Brain Sciences

The primary interest in the Barrash Lab concerns the nature of personality disturbances consequent to development of brain disorders, and issues regarding the assessment of acquired personality disturbances (APD). The method employs the Iowa Scales of Personality Change (ISPC) to obtain ratings of patients from family members with identified neurological conditions. Recent and current projects have investigated APD associated with damage to prefrontal cortex or associated with specific conditions such as behavioral variant-frontotemporal dementia, CVA, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, tumors and traumatic brain injury, as well as personality changes associated with normal aging and their functional consequences. Ongoing investigation also aims to identify and validate specific subtypes of personality disturbance resulting from brain damage.

Alex Bassuk

Alex Bassuk, MD, PhD

Departments of Neurology, Pediatrics, Molecular and Cellular Biology, and Genetics

The Bassuk Laboratory focuses on the molecular biology, protein biochemistry, and genetic mechanisms in human diseases and in animal models. Along with a diverse cross-disciplinary team of researchers at the University of Iowa, we are pursuing a collaborative and innovative approach to use proteomics, fruit flies, zebrafish, and mice to rapidly translate basic science findings into clinical treatments. Our investigative group is well poised to leverage novel in vivo techniques into new treatments for epilepsy and other human diseases.

Robert Block, PhD

Robert Block, PhD

Department of Anesthesia

Dr. Block has research interests in adverse effects of exposure to general anesthesia during infancy on childhood brain and cognitive development; chronic and acute effects of drugs of abuse, such as marijuana, on memory and other cognitive functions, and on cognition-related changes in regional cerebral blood flow; cognition-related changes in regional cerebral blood flow; awareness and learning during general anesthesia; effects of general anesthesia on memory; effects of anesthetics (e.g., nitrous oxide) and anesthesia-related drugs (e.g., benzodiazepines) on memory and other cognitive functions.

M Blumberg

Mark Blumberg, PhD

Departments of Psychological & Brain Sciences and Biology

Every developing animal must learn to function within the context of an ever-changing body. Typically, investigations of sensorimotor development focus on waking movements. The Blumberg Lab considers another class of behavior: Twitching movements that occur exclusively during active (or REM) sleep. Twitches are particularly abundant in early infancy when critical sensorimotor networks and topographic maps are established. Based on behavioral, electrophysiological, neurophysiological, and computational investigations of this unique behavior, we investigate the roles that sleep and sleep-related twitches play in the development and maintenance of the sensorimotor system, as well as its repair after injury or disease.

Aaron Boes

Aaron Boes, MD, PhD

Departments of Neurology and Pediatrics

Research in the Boes Lab is at the interface of neuroimaging and noninvasive brain stimulation. The lab uses multi-modal neuroimaging techniques to better understand brain function at a macroscopic network level, and how network dysfunction contributes to clinical symptoms, including symptoms from focal brain lesions. The ultimate goal is to use advanced neuroimaging approaches to guide treatment using noninvasive brain stimulation, including transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS). We believe there is tremendous therapeutic potential in the combined use of advanced imaging to detect dysfunctional networks coupled with noninvasive brain stimulation to modulate these networks in a targeted way, which aligns with Dr. Boes's clinical role directing the Noninvasive Brain Stimulation Clinical Program.

Ryan Bourreau, PhD

Ryan Boudreau, PhD

Department of Internal Medicine

The Boudreau Lab is currently investigating the role of endogenously-encoded microRNAs and novel micropeptides in Parkinson’s disease (PD) pathogenesis in mice. These projects incorporate a breadth of techniques, including viral-based (AAV) overexpression and inhibition (RNAi) of microRNAs and micropeptides in vivo, generation and characterization of CRISPR-derived knockout mice, and behavioral and neuropathological phenotyping in mice. Overall, the research program is balanced in basic and translational studies, wet-lab and computational methods, and resource- and hypothesis-driven research. This framework promotes multi-disciplinary and collaborative science, offering an excellent environment to foster the growth of current and future trainees, as well as make important biomedical discoveries that may translate to the clinical setting.

Charles Brenner

Charles Brenner, PhD

Departments of Biochemistry and Internal Medicine

The Brenner laboratory discovered nicotinamide riboside (NR) as an unanticipated vitamin precursor of NAD. Because NAD is under attack in conditions including neurodegeneration, NR has strong potential as a translatable preventative and therapeutic molecule in conditions including diabetic peripheral neuropathy (1), chemotherapeutic neuropathy (2) and maintenance of human wellness (3). Researchers in the Brenner group continue to identify mechanisms by which boosting NAD benefits metabolism in systems that include dissection of the maternal and neonatal benefits of NR.


Gordon Buchanan, MD, PhD

Department of Neurology 

Research efforts in the Buchanan laboratory are focused on understanding basic mechanisms of epilepsy and sleep-wake regulation. We are particularly interested in the effects of seizures, vigilance state and circadian phase on cardio-respiratory control and how these may interact to lead to death following a seizure, or sudden unexpected death in epilepsy (SUDEP). We employ behavioral, surgical, electrophysiological, molecular, histological, and imaging techniques in conjunction with a variety of seizure induction methods in a variety of mouse models to address our research questions. Our goal is to understand factors that render a given seizure fatal in an effort to help prevent SUDEP. 

Aristides Capizzano, MD

Aristides Capizzano, MD

Department of Radiology

Dr. Capizzano is a neuroradiologist  with a strong orientation towards the anatomic and evolutionary dimension of neurobiology, and a particular interested in the limbic lobe, given its unique position linking phylogenetically old with recently developed cortical areas and their functions. His lab work has focused on the imaging evaluation of limbic-centered disorders, particularly dementia and epilepsy, using quantitative structural MRI and MR spectroscopy. The lab is currently investigating amygdala enlargement in temporal lobe epilepsy, a recently described epileptic syndrome likely related to chronic neuroinflammation.

Amy Conrad

Amy L. Conrad, PhD

Department of Pediatrics - Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics

Dr. Conrad is a psychologist who works clinically with children who have learning disorders. Her research focuses on the neural development in children with isolated cleft of the lip and/or palate, with special interest in language and reading development. The work has typically been with children in elementary school and junior high, using fMRI task-based designs, but now is expanding to earlier development (neonatal) and the potential use of fNIRS in this population.

Susan wagner Cook

Susan Wagner Cook, PhD

Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences

The human capacity for learning and communication is fundamental to our success as a species. Humans represent and communicate knowledge, not only in language, but also in hand gestures, which are movements of the hands that typically accompany speech. Although gestures are ubiquitous and robust behaviors, seen in speakers of all ages, of all languages, and from all cultures, it is not at all clear why we gesture when we speak. Dr. Cook seeks to understand the nature and function of gesture. Findings suggest that human thinking emerges from the interaction of abstract, symbolic structures and visible, bodily behavior, and that this interaction draws on simultaneous activation of information across multiple memory systems. 

H Cui

Huxing Cui, PhD

Department of Pharmacology

In order to maintain energy homeostasis, the central nervous system must sense and gather information from periphery on energy status and coordinate appropriate responses, ranging from mood and behavior to the autonomic nervous system activity, to keep balanced energy intake and expenditure. Any disruption in these physiological processes can lead to serious health problems including disordered eating behaviors, obesity and associated chronic diseases, such as diabetes and hypertension. The goal of research in the Cui Lab is to uncover the complicated brain networks and signaling mechanisms that control metabolic homeostasis and cardiovascular function. To this end, we employee the state-of-the-art techniques, including optogenetics, chemogenetics and  in vivo Cre/loxP system, combined with behavioral neuroscience, neuroanatomy, electrophysiology, molecular biology and biochemistry.

Michael Dailey, PhD

Michael E. Dailey, PhD

Department of Biology

The Dailey Lab utilizes in vitro and in vivo methods to study basic mechanisms of neuronal and glial cell development and plasticity in the mammalian brain using rodent models.  We have particular strength in applying time-lapse fluorescence confocal and multiphoton imaging approaches to investigate the dynamic behavior of neurons and glia in live brain tissues.  Current work in the lab utilizes a combination of cell biological, pharmacological, genetic, and imaging approaches to study the normal development of glial cells (microglia and astrocytes), and to investigate the roles of glial cells and neuroinflammation in developmental brain injury and pathological conditions including traumatic injury, developmental exposure to environmental toxicants including alcohol and pesticides, and cardiovascular conditions such as stroke and hypertension.

Santana Dayal, PhD

Sanjana Dayal, PhD, FAHA

Department of Internal Medicine

Dr. Dayal’s primary research interest is in studying the mechanisms of vascular dysfunction and thrombosis related to risk factors such as hyperhomocysteinemia, aging, cancer and oxidative stress. Her research work over the years has been supported through several funding’s from American Heart Association and National Institute of Aging, NIH. She has actively published in the area of cerebrovascular phenotypes and is currently examining mechanisms of increased susceptibility to stroke in mouse models of hyperhomocysteinemia. She is recently funded to establish infrastructure for future homocysteine-lowering trials to prevent or decrease vascular incidents in Indian patients with ischemic stroke that will allow her to translate her basic research findings into human stroke. Currently, she is also defining the memory and learning deficits in murine models of hyperhomocysteinemia and aging; she will specifically define mechanistic role of oxidative stress. 

Natalie Denburg, PhD

Natalie Denburg, PhD

Department of Neurology and Psychological and Brain Sciences

Research in the Denburg laboratory addresses the cognitive neuroscience of healthy and pathological (e.g., Alzheimer’s disease) aging.  One area of emphasis has been the investigation of real-world decision-making (i.e., consumer, medical, and financial decision-making) during older adulthood, to address why older adults are at risk of falling prey to deceptive and misleading sales tactics, and to examine the neurological substrates responsible for such errors in judgment.  Methods used include behavioral, neuroimaging (both structural and functional), and physiological (emotion) measurements.  Secondary interests include cancer survivorship, neuroepidemiology, and social neuroscience.  Our Lab’s research has been funded by both private and public agencies, including the National Institutes of Health (NIH), AARP/Andrus Foundation, and The Dana Foundation, and we have current funding from the NIH.     

Colin Derdeyn

Colin Derdeyn, MD, FACR

Departments of Radiology and Neurology

Dr. Derdeyn has long-standing interest in: 1. hemodynamic impairment and its relationship with stroke risk and 2. cerebrovascular disease. His work has spanned human physiological studies using PET and MR to investigate and measure cerebral blood flow, blood volume and oxygen metabolism in humans to large scale randomized multicenter trials of revascularization. These studies have included the Carotid Occlusion Surgery Study and the Stenting and Aggressive Medical Management for the Prevention of Recurrent Ischemic Stroke Study. Most recently, we concluded a long-term prospective study of hemodynamics in patients with moyamoya disease, an occlusive vasculopathy that generally affects women in their 3rd and 4th decades. Current work is focused on investigating endovascular methods for revascularization in patients with complete atherosclerotic carotid occlusion, as well as developing a reproducible, validated method for quantifying brain aneurysm growth.

Brian Dlouhy

Brian J. Dlouhy, MD

Department of Neurosurgery

The Dlouhy basic science and translational research lab focuses on understanding the mechanisms of sudden unexpected death in epilepsy (SUDEP). We use animal models and study children and adults with epilepsy to identify the neural networks in the brain that influence breathing and to better understand how breathing is inhibited during seizures. Dr. Dlouhy also has a clinical interest and research interest in understanding the pathophysiology, genetics, and proper treatment strategies for Chiari disorders and disorders of the craniovertebral junction (CVJ).