Members R-Z

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

   

Jason Radley, PhD

Jason J. Radley, PhD

Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences

Threats to safety, whether real of perceived, activate a set of physiological, behavioral, and endocrine responses that promote effective coping.  Known collectively as stress responses, these have adaptive value for the individual in the short term.  However, when stress responses are activated over a sustained period they can initiate the onset of or worsen a variety of psychiatric and systemic disease states.  Our research program uses anatomical, behavioral, neuroendocrine, optogenetic approaches to understand the neural circuitry and mechanisms that regulate stress responses in rodents, and how these systems malfunction through the course of chronic exposure, as a greater knowledge of these pathways and how they malfunction is needed to minimize or prevent the adverse effects of stress on health and disease.  

Kamal Rahmouni PhD

Kamal Rahmouni, PhD

Department of Pharmacology

The Rahmouni Lab seeks to understand the fundamental biological events in the central nervous system that controls metabolism and cardiovascular function in health and disease. Dr. Rahmouni is especially focused on the identification of the neuronal pathways that determine metabolic and cardiovascular regulation. Studies in the laboratory are also being directed towards uncovering how these pathways are dysregulated in disease conditions such as obesity, diabetes and hypertension. The lab uses multidisciplinary approaches including basic cellular and molecular research tools, genetic models and sophisticated physiological techniques including direct sympathetic/parasympathetic recordings that allow us to address physiological questions at the molecular level.

George Richardson, MD, PhD

George Richerson, MD, PhD

Department of Neurology

One goal of the Richerson Lab is to determine the mechanisms by which serotonergic neurons sense changes in CO2, and how their downstream effects contribute to control of pH. Defining the mechanisms of central respiratory chemoreception may lead to specific treatments for diseases in which respiratory chemoreception is abnormal and provide a better understanding of how CO2 and pH affect CNS function. The team is also studying how GABA is released from neurons and glia, and how this release is affected by anticonvulsants. GABA is the major inhibitory neurotransmitter in the brain.

Janice Robertson, PhD

Janice Robertson, PhD

Department of Molecular Physiology and Biophysics

In general, membrane proteins assemble and bind to one another via hydrophobic, non-polar side chain interactions.  This raises the simple but fundamental question: how does a greasy protein surface find its greasy protein partner in the greasy lipid bilayer to assemble faithfully into its native structure? In our lab, we measure the free energies associated with membrane protein assembly and binding directly in lipid bilayers. We carry out this research using a variety of experimental techniques including membrane protein purification and functional reconstitution, electrophysiology, x-ray crystallography, single-molecule TIRF microscopy and computational modeling. We have developed a reliable and rigorous model system, following the dimerization of the large Cl-/H+ antiporter CLC-ec1, which allows us to quantify the reaction and extract the thermodynamic reasons why assembly is favored in membranes.  In addition, we are using these same techniques to study the binding reactions of small, membrane embedded regulatory subunits with ion channels found in neurons and muscle. Finally, we are using these systems to quantify how modulators of membranes, such as small lipophilic molecules and anesthetics, shift the stability of membrane protein assemblies, in an effort to identify how drugs interact with membrane proteins in the lipid bilayer.

David Roman PhD

David L. Roman, PhD

Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences and Experimental Therapeutics

The Roman Lab has been investigating members of the adenylate cyclase family of enzymes and the regulation of cyclases through unique protein-protein interactions as novel therapeutic targets, exploiting a unique set of protein-protein interactions to achieve small molecule inhibitor selection among the ten different cyclase family members. 

Andrew Russo, PhD

Andrew Russo, PhD

Department of Molecular Physiology and Biophysics, Department of Neurology

Dr. Russo's research interest is the molecular basis of migraine. The hallmark of migraine is altered sensory perception coupled with a debilitating headache. Clinical studies have established that the neuropeptide calcitonin gene-related peptide (CGRP) is a key player in migraine. Using mouse models, we have shown that CGRP acts both centrally and peripherally to induce light aversive behavior analogous to photophobia. CGRP also induces pain indicated by facial grimace and reduced voluntary movement. Our lab is currently using genetic and optogenetic tools to identify the neural pathways responsible for CGRP-induced photosensitivity and pain. We are also exploring how CGRP is elevated by cortical spreading depression, which is associated with migraine aura and traumatic brain injury (TBI). Recently, we have begun translational studies testing photosensitivity in migraine patients and veterans with mild TBI. Our overall goals are to develop effective diagnostic and therapeutic strategies for migraine and post-traumatic headache.

Rasna Sabharwal, PhD

Rasna Sabharwal, PhD

Department of Internal Medicine

Research in the Sabharwal Lab is directed towards understanding neurohumoral regulatory mechanisms in health and disease.  Ongoing projects investigate the role of renin-angiotensin system, sympathetic nervous system, and hypothalamic-pituitary adrenal axis in muscular dystrophy, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, dilated cardiomyopathy and stress-induced sudden death.  We utilize multidisciplinary and state-of-the art approaches such as radiotelemetry, echocardiography, in vivo viral gene transfer, optogenetics etc. to assess cardiovascular and autonomic functions, sleep-wakefulness patterns, behavior and neural circuitry in genetically modified mice.  Our ultimate goal is to identify novel therapies that can be translated to yield better clinical outcomes in neuromuscular and neurodegenerative diseases, cardiomyopathies and psychosocial disorders. 

Julien A Sebag, PhD

Julien A. Sebag, PhD

Department of Molecular Physiology and Biophysics

The Sebag Lab studies the regulation of GPCRs involved in the control of energy and glucose homeostasis. The Melanocortin Receptor Accessory Protein 2 (MRAP2) is critical for the maintenance of energy balance and the loss of MRAP2 results in severe obesity. Therefore, identifying the mechanisms by which MRAP2 regulates energy homeostasis and the signaling pathways involved is a major goal of our laboratory. We have so far identified several GPCR targets of MRAP2 and those receptors all play important roles in regulating feeding and energy expenditure in the hypothalamus. MRAP2, through its effects on GPCRs, modulates the activity of neurons in the paraventricular nucleus and the arcuate nucleus, thus making it a key central regulator of energy sensing and feeding behavior. We use pharmacology, animal behaviorla studies, metabolic studies and proteomics to further our understanding of the role and mechanism of MRAP2 with the goal of identifying new targets and strategies for the treatment of obesity.

Val Sheffield, MD, PhD

Val Sheffield, MD, PhD

Department of Pediatrics

The Sheffield Lab is interested in identifying and understanding the function of genes which cause a variety of human disorders. Our research efforts have focused on the molecular genetics of monogenic disorders, as well as polygenic and multifactorial disorders. Our research efforts have resulted in the mapping of many different disease loci. In addition, we have used positional cloning methods to identify genes involved in a number of different diseases including hereditary blindness and deafness. Efforts are currently underway to use positional cloning strategies to identify additional disease-causing genes. Complex genetic disorders currently under investigation in the laboratory include hypertension, obesity, congenital heart disease and autism. In addition, we have worked on developing and improving techniques for disease mapping, positional cloning, and mutation detection. We have also had an active role in the human genome project and the rat genome project.

Gen Shinozaki

Gen Shinozaki, MD

Department of Psychiatry

The Shinozaki Lab aims to study the molecular influence of environmental factors such as trauma and stress on individual susceptibility to psychiatric conditions including posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and major depressive disorder (MDD) using an epigenetic/genetic approach.

Michael Shy, MD

Michael Shy, MD

Department of Neurology

Dr. Shy is focused on translational research to develop rational therapies for patients with inherited peripheral neuropathies and related neurodegenerative diseases.

Kathleen Sluka, PT, PhD

Kathleen Sluka, PT, PhD

Department of Physical Therapy and Rehabilitation Science

Dr. Sluka's laboratory studies the peripheral and central mechanisms of chronic musculoskeletal pain, and non-pharmacological treatment for chronic pain. These studies involve the use of animal models of muscle pain developed and characterized in Dr. Sluka's laboratory, as well as projects in human subjects. We use a variety of techniques to address these questions including cell culture, molecular biology, genetic manipulations, behavioral pharmacology, and standard clinical trial methodology. Our overall goals are to improve the management of pain for people with a variety of musculoskeletal pain conditions by discovering the underlying mechanisms that lead to the development of chronic pain, discovering new therapies for pain management, and improving the use of currently available treatment for pain.

Ryan M. Smith, PhD

Ryan M. Smith, PhD

Departments of Pharmaceutical Sciences and Experimental Therapeutics / Division of Pharmaceutics and Translational Therapeutics

The Smith Lab studies mechanisms of RNA regulation, focusing on spatial and temporal dynamics of RNA expression in cells of the central nervous system. A major aim of the laboratory is to identify functional polymorphisms that modulate RNA expression. These polymorphisms are substrate for a number of downstream applications, including genetic association studies in complex genetic disorders and pharmacogenetic analyses, novel drug target identification and validation for CNS disorders, and studies on evolutionary selection pressures.

Hanna Stevens, MD, PhD

Hanna Stevens, MD, PhD

Department of Psychiatry

The Psychiatry and Early Neurobiological Development Lab (PENDL) in the Iowa Neuroscience Institute seeks to understand molecular and cellular aspects of early brain development and their relevance to psychiatric disorders. We are particularly interested in understanding how prenatal stress, environmental exposures, and genes that play a role in early development have an impact on childhood behavior and act as risk factors for multiple psychiatric disorders. 

We use mostly basic science techniques including molecular, cellular, neuroanatomical, and behavioral assessment of mouse models. Specific mechanisms currently being examined in the lab are embryonic neuronal migration, telomere biology and oxidative stress, embryonic neurogenesis, fibroblast growth factor signaling, and branched chain amino acid metabolism. We also examine risk factors during prenatal development in family cohorts. Our goal is to advance mental health prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of disorders across the lifespan. We particularly focus on the high risk times of pregnancy and early development. 

Edwin. M. Stone, MD, PhD

Edwin M. Stone, MD, PhD

Department of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences

Research in the Stone Lab is focused on the diagnosis, mechanistic understanding, and treatment of a wide variety of inherited retinal diseases. Specifically, we are working to develop: 1) cost effective, sensitive and specific genetic tests; 2) strategies for creating transplantable retinal tissues from patient-derived iPSCs (for cell-based treatment as well as for rapidly and inexpensively assessing the performance of new therapeutic vectors in human cells); and, 3) an assortment of immune-deficient animal models of inherited retinal disease that can be used for testing the viability and functionality of genetically-corrected, iPSC-derived retinal cells.

Stefan Strack, PhD

Stefan Strack, PhD

Department of Pharmacology

Research in the Strack Lab revolves around signal transduction mechanisms in neuronal development and neurodegeneration. We have two main areas of research interest. The first is regulation and substrate specificity of neuronal protein phosphatase 2A (PP2A) holoenzymes. The second area is regulation of the mitochondrial fission/fusion equilibrium by protein kinases and phosphatases. Our research is relevant to the treatment of neurological disorders (in particular, peripheral neuropathies and spinocerebellar ataxias), ischemic stroke, and neurodevelopmental disorders.

Lane Strathearn, MBBS, PhD

Lane Strathearn, MBBS, PhD, FRACP

Department of Pediatrics

Dr. Strathearn is a Professor of Pediatrics at the University of Iowa, Director of the Division of Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics, and Physician Director of the Center for Disabilities and Development (CDD). His research focuses on the neurobiology of mother-infant attachment, including longitudinal studies of parents and infants, examining maternal brain and oxytocin responses to infant face and cry cues, using functional MRI and behavioral observation. His most recent NIH grants support research into maternal brain responses of drug-addicted mothers, and the potential role of intranasal oxytocin to enhance parental caregiving responses. As co-director of the University of Iowa Autism Center, he is also interested in developmental, behavioral and genetic risk markers for autism and has conducted eye tracking research in children with autism.

Bruce Tomblin, PhD

J. Bruce Tomblin, PhD

Department of Communication Science and Disorders - Emeritus Professor

Dr. Tomblin's research has been concerned with the causes and consequences of individual differences in language development and disorders.  With respect to the first topic, he has focused on pathways that run through multiple levels of causation ranging from genetic and environmental factors through brain and cognitive learning systems. His genetics research has been done in collaboration with Jeff Murray and recently Jake Mickelson searching for genetic factors that influence brain systems that support language development and contribute to developmental disorders. His imaging work has involved structural MRI and functional connectivity of brain systems cortical and subcortical) associated with language. This work has been done in collaboration with Dr. Peg Nopoulos and Dr. Brad Schlaggar at Washington University in St. Louis. Recently we have extended this work to use MRI to examine individual differences in auditory, speech and language brain systems in children with mild to severe hearing loss with a focus on the effects of variation in auditory and linguistic input on these brain systems.

Dan Tranel

Dan Tranel, PhD

Departments of Neurology and Psychological and Brain Sciences

Research in the Tranel laboratory is aimed at understanding brain-behavior relationships in humans, at systems level. Two main approaches are used: (1) the lesion method, in which brain-damaged patients are studied with neuropsychological procedures to determine how certain lesion sites are related to certain cognitive and behavioral deficits; and (2) functional imaging, including PET and fMRI, in which the brain activation in normal subjects is measured while the subjects are performing various tasks. Specific topics that Tranel is working on currently include: brain networks; retrieval of conceptual knowledge; retrieval of words and lexical knowledge; emotion and decision-making; nonconscious processing; acquired disorders of social conduct; memory; and psychophysiology. Tranel's research has been continuously funded for more than three decades.

Yuriy Usachev, PhD

Yuriy M. Usachev, PhD

Departments of Pharmacology and Anesthesia

Chronic pain management remains one of the most serious public health problems. The Usachev Lab uses an array of molecular biological and genetic techniques, combined with patch-clamp recordings and fluorescent imaging of intracellular Ca2+, Na+ and pH changes in pain-conducting neurons (called nociceptors), as well as behavioral studies to address two broad sets of questions related to chronic pain pathogenesis. The first set of questions focuses on relatively rapid changes to nociceptor excitability and synaptic transmission that are induced by proinflammatory mediators generated by immune and glial cells at the site of injury or inflammation, and mediated via phosphorylation of so-called pain channels, including TRPV1, TRPA1 and voltage-gated Na+ channels Nav1.7, 1.8 and 1.9. We are particularly interested in the role of the complement system factors C3a and C5a in regulating nociceptor excitability and function. The second set of questions examines the long-term changes to the nociceptor molecular composition and function in response to injury or inflammation, and involves alterations in gene expression. 

Jatin Vaidya, PhD

Jatin Vaidya, PhD

Department of Psychiatry

Dr. Vaidya examines developmental shifts in neurobiological processes and personality traits related to impulsivity and reward sensitivity.  Using, neuroimaging, behavioral, and personality measures, his work seeks to identify distinct components of impulsivity, how these components can be understood in the context of brain development and reward sensitivity, and how changes in impulsivity during adolescence are associated with risk-taking and drug use.  His lab focuses on both normal and abnormal brain maturation with a particular emphasis on studying adolescents who have a familial risk for developing psychiatric disorders.  Using functional magnetic resonance imaging, a key area of focus is to identify altered brain activation and connectivity patterns in high risk adolescents.

Shaun Vecera, PhD

Shaun Vecera, PhD

Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences

Dr. Vecera is a specialist in visual cognition, with specific interests in visual attention. He is a professor in the cognition and perception area in the Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences at the University of Iowa. His main line of research relies on behavioral and psychophysical measures of attention, but Professor Vecera also relies on neuropsychological patients and neuroimaging to constrain his theoretical views of attention.  The underlying theme in most of the recent research from Professor Vecera’s lab is the role of longer-term learning and memory on the control of visual attention.  Recent results suggest that rewards—either direct monetary rewards or secondary reinforcers—can bias the deployment of visual attention and that visual regularities influence those items that are likely to be attended.

Michelle Voss, PhD

Michelle Voss, PhD

Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences

Research in the Voss Lab examines the neurobiological mechanisms associated with cognitive aging and age-related neurological diseases, and how to effectively intervene for improved cognition and quality of life. One line of research focuses on determining the effects of physical activity and sedentary behavior on the brain and cognition across the lifespan. A parallel line of studies examines age-related individual differences in the neurobiological mechanisms of skill acquisition and associative memory. We also bring these two interests together by examining how physical activity affects learning and memory. We examine neural mechanisms using non-invasive neuroimaging techniques, such as structural and functional magnetic resonance imaging at MRRF.

Ed Wasserman, PhD

Edward A. Wasserman, PhD

Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences

Dr. Wasserman's research concerns the comparative psychology and neurobiology of learning, memory, and cognition. Together with colleagues at The University of Iowa, The Ohio State University, and University College, London, he has an ongoing federally-funded project entitled, “Development and Neurobiology of Categorization.” They have several aspirations: (1) to document ontogenetic and phylogenetic changes in categorization, (2) to link brain development with the development of categorization in humans, (3) to develop and test animal models of category learning, and (4) to use animal models for examining the neurobiology of categorization.

Josh Weiner

Joshua Weiner, PhD

Associate Director of Education and Outreach - Iowa Neuroscience Institute

Department of Biology

The Weiner Lab is focused on identifying the molecular mechanisms regulating neural circuit formation in the developing brain. We utilize a variety of transgenic mouse models, generated using Cre/LoxP and CRISPR/Cas9 techniques, as well as cell line, neuronal, and glial cultures, protein biochemistry, transcriptomics, and confocal microscopy. Many current projects center around protocadherins, diverse cell adhesion molecules that we've shown are critical for neuronal survival, dendrite arborization, and synaptogenesis. We are also identifying functions for a poorly-understood nuclear protein, Akirin2; mice lacking this protein in the nervous system exhibit microcephaly, ataxia, defective neuronal and glial differentiation, and dysregulation of genes involved in circuit formation. Our work, funded by the NIH, March of Dimes, and other private organizations, is relevant to a wide variety of neurodevelopmental disorders associated with autism and intellectual disability.

John Wemmie, MD, PhD

John Wemmie, MD, PhD

Associate Director of Translational Research - Iowa Neuroscience Institute

Departments of Psychiatry, Molecular Physiology and Biophysics and Neurosurgery

Dr. Wemmie is interested in the role of brain pH and acid-sensing ion channels in brain function and behavior. This work has led to the discovery of critical roles for brain pH in synaptic plasticity, anxiety, and depression-related behaviors in mice. Current projects include investigating the synaptic mechanisms for acid-sensing ion channel action and also translating these discoveries to human behavior and brain function. For example, his laboratory is using non-invasive pH-sensitive magnetic resonance imaging to investigate the roles of brain pH in psychiatric illnesses such as panic disorder and bipolar affective disorder.

Jan Wessel

Jan Wessel, PhD

Departments of Neurology and Psychological and Brain Sciences

The Wessel Lab is interested in how humans carry out and maintain goal-directed behaviors; specifically, we investigate how the cognitive system resolves challenges to this goal. Common examples of such challenges are unexpected events and action errors. We investigate the dynamic interplay between brain networks that subserve the monitoring of the external and internal environment, the evaluation of action outcomes, and the adaptation of ongoing behavior and cognition in the short and long term. To investigate these networks, we utilzie a wide arsenal of human neuroscience methods (EEG, ECoG, Deep-brain stimulation, TMS, fMRI, computational modelling, autonomic measures). Furthermore, we study how pathological processes, brain lesions, and (ab)normal aging affect these networks.

Aisling Williams, MD, PhD

Aislinn Williams, MD, PhD

Department of Psychiatry

The Williams lab is interested in understanding the molecular and cellular mechanisms by which genetic risk factors contribute to psychiatric disease from a developmental perspective. Our current projects focus on voltage-gated calcium channel genes, which have been linked to the risk of developing bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, depression, and autism. We use induced pluripotent stem cells and transgenic mouse models to study how calcium channel gene SNPs alter neuronal development, neural circuit function, and affective behavior. We employ a wide range of approaches, including molecular biology, live cell imaging, neuropathology, and animal behavioral assessments, to try to unravel the developmental pathways involved in neuropsychiatric disease, in the hope of identifying novel treatment targets.

Virginia Willour, PhD

Virginia L. Willour, PhD

Department of Psychiatry

The primary goal of our laboratory is to identify genetic and epigenetic risk factors for suicidal behavior. Genetic epidemiological studies make it clear that suicidal behavior has a substantial heritable component. While there is evidence that this heritability is accounted for in part by a liability to mood disorder, other evidence suggests an independent heritable facet that may cut across multiple psychiatric disorders. With this in mind, we have been employing systematic genetic approaches including linkage analysis, genome-wide association study analysis, whole exome sequencing analysis, RNA-Seq analysis, and genome-wide methylation analysis, with the goal of identifying genomic regions, genes, and biological pathways influencing suicide risk. Our ongoing research has implicated a region on chromosome 2 (2p25) in the risk for suicidal behavior, and we are utilizing complementary genetic approaches, such as CRISPR-Cas9 based deletion mapping and bioinformatics assessment, to characterize the region and identify the functional elements conferring increased risk.   

Kristan Worthington, PhD

Kristan Worthington, PhD

Department of Biomedical Engineering

The Worthington Lab is interested in using biomaterials to help study and treat various diseases and conditions. We are currently using high-resolution 3D printing to create degradable scaffolds to deliver iPSC-derived photoreceptor cells to the retina. We are also studying ways in which we can fine-tune the release of proteins and small molecules from these precision biomaterials and developing stem cell culture strategies to streamline the differentiation of neural cells.

Chun-Fang Wu, PhD

Chun-Fang Wu, PhD

Department of Biology

The long-term research goals in the Wu Lab concern the genetic framework underlying nervous system function and behavior in the context of nature-nurture interactions. Our research involves analyses at difference levels in Drosophila mutants and natural variant. A combination of electrophysiological, anatomical, cell biological, genetic and behavioral techniques is employed to study the neural basis of behavior in both in vivo and in vitro preparations.  Currently, our research projects center around neuronal, behavioral, and lifespan plasticity in Drosophila. We focus on mutants with altered nerve excitability and deficiencies in learning behavior. Mutants and transgenic flies are analyzed in identified neurons and neural circuits for consequences of altered ion channel functions and synaptic mechanisms, as well as their homeostatic adjustments under environmental stressors throughout the lifespan. For example, we found the short-lived SOD mutant flies could double their lifespan when co-housed with young, active “helper” flies. This striking social interaction effect improves stress resistance and motor coordination, opening opportunities to unravel the underlying molecular mechanisms and networks of interacting genes that confer the beneficial effects.

William Xu, MD

William Xu, MD

Department of Anesthesia

Dr. Xu is interested in exploring the neurophysiological mechanism of acupuncture analgesia, including how and why acute pain, chronic pain and inflammation can be regulated by acupuncture treatment. Clinically, he is focused on using acupuncture to promote the ERAS ( Enhanced Recovery After Surgery) in perioperative medicine, how acupuncture can be used to improve the rehabilitation of PTSD, neurotrauma, stroke, fibromyalgia  and muscle fatigue. He also studies the neurological mechanism of DBS ( Deep Brain Stimulation) in movement disorders and other neurological/Psychiatric diseases like migraine, addiction, depression etc.  

Sam Young, PhD

Samuel M. Young, PhD

Department of Anatomy and Cell Biology

The Young Lab is focused on the fundamental question– “How do synapses enable neuronal circuits to transmit a wide diversity of information?”  Outcomes from our work will define the molecular principles that govern how synaptic properties drive neuronal circuit output which underpins organism behavior. These molecular principles uncovered may reveal the underlying causes of neuronal circuit dysregulation which results in neuropsychiatric or neurodegenerative diseases and have the potential to give rise to new therapeutic treatments.

Yang Yu, PhD

Yang Yu, PhD

Department of Internal Medicine

Dr. Yu's research interest is in understanding the central neural mechanisms in the regulation of sympathetic nervous activity and cardiovascular function in heart failure and hypertension. Recent studies have focused specifically on the roles of increased proinflammatory cytokines and renin-angiotensin system activity in the subfornical organ, a forebrain circumventricular organ that senses circulating humoral factors, and downstream in the hypothalamic paraventricular nucleus, a forebrain source of presympathetic neurons that has been implicated in the pathophysiology of heart failure and hypertension. Molecular biological techniques including real-time PCR, Western blots, immunohistological/immunofluorescent techniques are routinely used to address this research problem and the molecular results are correlated with functional data from acute electrophysiological studies examining the effects of these manipulations on regulation of sympathetic nervous activity and cardiovascular function.