Members L-Q

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

Ryan LaLumiere

Ryan T. LaLumiere, PhD

Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences

The La Lumiere Lab focuses on two related areas: The neurobiology of learning and memory and the neurobiology of drug addiction. In the first line of research, we focus on the mechanisms that underlie memory consolidation in rodents, with particular attention given to how the amygdala modulates such processes. In our approach to this issue, we target specific pathways connecting brain regions in combination with a variety of learning tasks in order to dissociate the roles of the pathways in different kinds of learning. For our drug addiction work, we take a learning-and-memory approach to understanding the neural mechanisms involved in drug-seeking behavior in rodents. For this work, rats undergo drug self-administration, followed by different paradigms that allow the animal to demonstrate its drug-seeking behavior. In particular, we are interested in understanding those systems, largely based in prefrontal cortex, that inhibit drug seeking.

Douglas Langbehn

Douglas R Langbehn, MD, PhD

Departments of Psychiatry and Biostatistics

Dr. Langbehn is a board-certified psychiatrist turned biostatistician. H is broadly interested in research design, analysis, and interpretation. More specifically, his goal is to use his dual expertise to match appropriate statistical design and analysis methodologies to specific goals in brain disease research. Over the past 16 years, he has focused on a variety of projects related to Huntington's Disease. These have included structural and functional brain imaging analysis, phenotyping and quantitative modeling of primary and secondary genetic effects, biomarker assay development, clinical trial design, and clinical descriptive research based on neuropsychology, psychiatric, and movement disorder measurements. While still active in these areas, his interests have recently broadened to include the statistical genetic and other etiologic modeling of both autism and familial substance use disorders.

Amy Lee, PhD

Amy Lee, PhD

Department of Molecular Physiology & Biophysics

Research in the Lee Lab centers on voltage-gated (Cav) Ca2+ channels and their roles in the nervous and cardiovascular systems. We view Cav channels as macromolecular complexes, the components of which regulate their properties and involvement in cellular transduction cascades. One focus is on Cav1 L-type channels at sensory "ribbon" synapses in the retina and inner ear, where Cav protein interactions transform presynaptic Ca2+ signals required for high-throughput neurotransmitter release. A second focus is on protein interactions regulate Cav1 channels involved in spontaneous firing (pacemaking) in the heart and brain. Our approach is multidisciplinary: we use patch-clamp electrophysiology for studies of Cav channel modulation and exocytosis; molecular biology, protein chemistry, and immuncytochemistry for analysis of Cav protein interactions; and gene silencing methods (siRNA, targeted gene disruption) and in vivo electrophysiology to evaluate the physiological consequences of Cav protein interactions in the context of hearing, vision, and cardiac rhythmicity. Our long-term goal is to develop pharmacological strategies to target cell-type and tissue-specific Cav regulatory mechanisms, which may prove more selective than current Cav agonists and antagonists in the treatment of neurological and cardiovascular disease.

Gloria Lee, PhD

Gloria Lee, PhD

Department of Internal Medicine - Immunology

Research in the Lee Lab focuses on tau protein, the main component of the neurofibrillary tangles found in several age-related neurodegenerative disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease. We identify and investigate novel interactions of tau, with the goal of elucidating (1) basic structure and function of tau, (2) the function of phosphorylated forms of tau that are found during neurodegeneration, and (3) functions that are altered by the mutant forms of tau that cause frontotemporal dementia (FTDP-17). Previously, we found that tau potentiated NGF-induced MAPK activation and recently, we found an interaction between tau and the protein tyrosine phosphatase SHP2. Currently, we are probing the role of this interaction in tau’s ability to affect MAPK activation. Lastly, we have also been investigating the function of the interaction between tau and the non-receptor tyrosine kinase Fyn, by using a double knockout mouse that lacks both tau and Fyn. 

Enrique Leira, MD, MS

Enrique Leira, MD, MS

Department of Neurology

Dr. Leira is an experienced Board certified Vascular Neurologist with additional training in Epidemiology and translational research methods. He is the principal investigator of one of the 25 Regional Coordinating Centers for the national research network NIH-StrokeNet. His area of interest in developing interventions to improve the outcome of patients living in rural communities far away from a tertiary center. His epidemiological interest in stroke disparities based on location has led to the development of clinical trials where the intervention is delivered during helicopter transport. That research has created the need for a translational study testing the influence of unique physical factors present during helicopter transportation on an ischemic brain. That led to the development of a new experimental approach that combines animal models of stroke and reperfusion with actual helicopter transportation. He is also studying the effects of Uric Acid in mitigating the effect of reperfusion injury.

Vincent Magnotta, PhD

Vincent A. Magnotta, PhD

Department of Radiology, Interdisciplinary Graduate Program in Neuroscience

The Magnotta Lab is currently focusing on the development of quantitative magnetic resonance imaging techniques that are sensitive to brain metabolism. Currently we are focusing on T1rho, CEST, and MR spectroscopic based techniques. Using these techniques coupled with other quantitative imaging markers (e.g. T1 and T2 relaxation measures) we are exploring metabolic changes associated with several psychiatric (schizophrenia, bipolar disorder) and neurological disorders (Huntington’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease). In addition, we are exploring how metabolism changes with symptoms and disease progression. Future work will accelerate these imaging measures allowing them to assess functional changes in the brain.

Ashu Mangalam, PhD

Ashutosh Mangalam, PhD

Department of Pathology

Dr. Mangalam’s research program is focused on understanding Microbiome-Gut-Immune-Brain axis in health and diseases including multiple sclerosis (MS). The human adult gut contains approximately 1000 grams of bacteria with genomic and biochemical complexity of microbiota exceeding that of the brain. Recent studies from Dr. Mangalam’s group suggest that gut microbiota diversity might play a major role in CNS diseases.  His group has also shown that certain gut commensal bacteria can suppress disease in the preclinical model of MS. Gut microbes can communicate with the brain through a variety of routes including the vagus nerve, cytokines, and metabolites including phytoestrogens-derived compounds such as equol. The current focus of the lab is to determine the mechanisms through which diet and gut microbiota maintain immune homeostasis and regulate neurological functions. He utilizes unique transgenic mice expressing MS-linked HLA class-II molecules to decipher how adaptive immune responses determine host microbiota composition and modulate neuroinflammation.  

Kathy Mathews

Katherine Mathews, MD

Departments of Neurology and Pediatrics

Dr. Mathews's research goal is to improve care of children and adults with neuromuscular diseases. As part of the University of Iowa Wellstone Center, she leads an ongoing longitudinal study of individuals with hypoglycosylation of alpha-dystroglycan resulting in muscular dystrophy with variable involvement of brain and eye formation (dystroglycanopathies).   This work will provide data necessary for planning clinical trials and to improve patient care.  She also has longstanding engagement in an epidemiologic study of muscular dystrophies in collaboration with the College of Public Health and funded by the CDC. This epidemiologic data will assist with planning trials and improving care across muscular dystrophies.  She is part of a Friedreich ataxia clinical consortium, collecting natural history data. She also directs Iowa's participation in several industry-sponsored clinical trials for neuromuscular diseases.

Bob McMurray, PhD

Bob McMurray, PhD

Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences

Dr. McMurray's research uses cognitive neuroscience and behavioral techniques to look at the fundamental mechanisms of speech perception and language processing and the development of these fundamental human abilities. He combines electro-encephalography (EEG), intercranial recordings on human epilepsy patients, and eye-tracking with computational models and machine learning techniques to understand the cognitive and neural mechanisms of language. 

Jacob Michaelson, PhD

Jacob Michaelson, PhD

Departments of Psychiatry and Communication Sciences and Disorders

The Michaelson Lab focuses on computational psychiatry and genomics. We are interested in the use of computing to improve the understanding, diagnosis, monitoring, and treatment of neuropsychiatric and neurodevelopmental conditions.  We use a variety of data modalities: genomic, metabolic, pharmacological, medical record, imaging, audio recording, textual, and body movement to build predictive models that assist us in our mission of improving mental health through computing. We have extramurally-supported research programs involving computational methodology, animal models, and human subjects research. 

Toshio Moritani, MD, PhD

Toshio Moritani, MD, PhD

Department of Radiology

Dr. Moritani's current research interests are new concepts and hypotheses that integrate neuroradiology and neuroscience.

1) Molecular biology, genetics and pathology of brain tumors correlated with the findings on different cutting edge imaging modalities (Diffusion-Perfusion Imaging, MR Spectroscopy, and PET)

2) Excitotoxic brain injury of acute and chronic neurological diseases correlated with the findings on different cutting edge imaging modalities Diffusion Imaging, MR Spectroscopy, and CEST. Referred to “Moritani T, Smoker WRK, Sato Y, Numaguchi Y, Westesson P. Diffusion-weighted imaging of acute excitotoxic brain injury. AJNR Am J Neuroradiol 26:216-228, 2005.”

3) Neuroimmunology such as CNS cytokinopathy in CNS white matter diseases correlated with the imaging, laboratory data (CSF study), and neuropathology.

Kumar Narayanan

Nandakumar Narayanan MD, PhD

Department of Neurology

Our mission is to map the neural circuits that malfunction in brain diseases that impair higher-order thinking. This data will help generate new and highly specific treatments for these disorders.

How does dopamine affect cortical circuits involved in cognition? We study the influence of dopamine on prefrontal networks controlling cognitive behaviors such as timing and performance monitoring. We combine ensemble recording from populations of neurons in awake, behaving animals with specific manipulations using techniques such as optogenetic stimulation, targeted pharmacology, or selective genetic disruption with RNA interference.

How does the prefrontal cortex control downstream brain areas? The prefrontal cortex projects to brain areas such as the striatum and the subthalamic nucleus. These brain areas are involved cognitive processing, and we study how prefrontal projections to these brain areas control cognitive processing in these downstream brain areas.

How can we protect and preserve circuits that malfunction in Parkinson's disease? Along with our collaborators, we study a variety of circuit-level and cellular processes in Parkinson's disease that lead to neurodgeneration and side-effects of current drugs for Parkinson's disease. This effort could lead to new and optimized treatments for Parkinson's disease.

Thomas Nickl-Jockschat, MD

Thomas Nickl-Jockschat, MD

Department of Psychiatry

The Nickl-Jockschat lab aims to characterize brain structural changes in psychiatric disorders, such as schizophrenia or autism spectrum disorders. As shown previously, these neuroanatomical anomalies do not appear to be mere epiphenomena, but closely related to the actual symptoms level of these disorders. Thus, a better understanding of these brain structural changes and their molecular and environmental causes might decisively help to develop not only a better understanding, but also new therapeutic approaches for the respective disorders.

Given the complex etiopathogenesis, the Nickl-Jockschat lab employs a wide range of methods, including human and animal imaging and advanced brain mapping techniques, including the use of cutting-edge gene expression atlases. A special focus lies upon a joint analyses of these various modalities. 


Peggy Nopoulos, MD

Departments of Neurology, Psychiatry and Pediatrics

Dr. Nopoulos’s research focuses on the study of brain and behavior.  Specifically, she studies aspects of understanding normal healthy brain such as differences in brain structure and function between the sexes as well as understanding how the brain changes with development through adolescence. In regard to the study of disease, her lab focuses on research into brain structure and function in two main areas:  prematurity, and neurogenetics with focus on triplet repeat disorders (Huntington’s Disease and Myotonic Dystrophy). This is done using state of the art neuroimaging techniques, specifically Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) which includes structural imaging, Diffusion Tensor Imaging, resting state fMRI, and novel sequences such as T1rho (pH imaging).  

K Nourski

Kirill Nourski, MD, PhD

Department of Neurosurgery

Dr. Nourski works in the Human Brain Research Laboratory with a team of neurosurgeons and neuroscientists to understand how the human brain processes sounds. Our research program is among a handful in the world with expertise in working with neurosurgical epilepsy patients who undergo electrode implantation for clinical diagnostic purposes. This provides a unique opportunity for direct electrophysiological recordings from the human brain. Dr. Nourski's work focuses on studying the functional organization of human auditory cortex through systematic investigation of its basic response properties. This knowledge, in turn, serves as a foundation for understanding higher auditory functions, i.e. how the brain “makes sense of sound” to build a coherent percept of the environment. He also studies how attention, level of consciousness and degraded listening conditions affect sound processing. This line of work seeks to bridge my basic research with interventions for patient benefit.

Krystal Parker, PhD

Krystal Parker, PhD

Department of Psychiatry

The primary goal of the Parker Lab is to characterize cerebellar neural circuitry with the goal of improving treatments for complex and devastating cognitive and mood abnormalities that are common in neuropsychiatric diseases. Our research is highly translational as we interrogate cerebellar circuitry in animals using electrophysiology, optogenetics, and pharmacology and compare these data to EEG paired with cerebellar TMS administered in clinical populations. The cerebellum contains more neurons than the rest of the brain combined and although it is most famous for its role in motor control, its contribution to cognitive and affective processes is less clear. Schizophrenia, autism, Parkinson’s disease, depression, and bipolar disorder are all examples of disorders involving cerebellar abnormalities that are characterized in part by impairments in cognition and mood. Using cerebellar modulation, we hope to capitalize on the cerebellum’s diffuse connections with the rest of the brain to identify and restore patterns of neural activity that are aberrant in disease. 

Stanley Perlman, MD, PhD

Stanley Perlman, MD, PhD

Department of Microbiology

The Perlman Lab is interested in neurovirology and neuroimmunology. Specifically, we study demyelination induced by infection of mice with a neurotropic coronavirus. Our interests range from virus tracing to the innate and adaptive immune responses to the factors important in demyelination and disease severity. Recent work has focused on the inflammatory milieu in the infected brain and the role of prostaglandins and other lipid mediators in outcomes. We  also have projects studying the role of microglia in host defense and  in how regulatory T cell diminish myelin damage mediated by effector anti-viral T cells.

Isaac Petersen, PhD

Isaac T. Petersen, PhD

Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences

Dr. Petersen's Developmental Psychopathology Lab is interested in how children develop individual differences in adjustment, including behavior problems as well as competencies.  Dr. Petersen is particularly interested in the development of externalizing behavior problems and underlying self-regulation difficulties.  His primary research interests include how children develop self-regulation as a function of bio-psycho-social processes including brain functioning, genetics, parenting, temperament, language, and sleep, and how self-regulation in turn influences adjustment and school readiness.  A special emphasis of his work examines the neural development underlying the development of self-regulation, school readiness, and externalizing problems, with measures of electroencephalography (EEG) and event-related potentials (ERPs).  To study the development of self-regulation and behavior problems, the lab follows children and their families longitudinally, from an early age, and examines multiple levels of analysis.

Robert Philibert, PhD

Robert A. Philibert, MD, PhD

Department of Psychiatry

The focus of the research efforts by Dr. Philibert's academic research group and its commercial affiliate, Behavioral Diagnostics LLC, isepigenetics. Specifically, we have developed and are commercializing proprietary epigenetic tools for the assessment and treatment of tobacco and alcohol consumption. In addition, we are in the process of translating additional tools for the assessment and treatment of other forms of substance use as well as general medical diagnostics for disorders such as coronary heart disease. The academic group is the caretaker for several large longitudinally characterized, biologically informed cohorts and possesses state of the art equipment for many aspects of molecular inquiry.

Andrew Pieper, MD, PhD

Andrew Pieper, MD, PhD

Department of Psychiatry

Dr. Pieper is an M.D., Ph.D. trained, board-certified psychiatrist and neuroscientist in the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Iowa Carver College of Medicine, with joint appointments in the Department of Neurology, Department of Free Radical and Radiation Biology, MSTP faculty, and Graduate Programs in Neuroscience, Toxicology, Molecular Physiology & Biophysics and Molecular & Cellular Biology. He is also a practicing psychiatrist in the Iowa City VA Health Care System. Dr. Pieper is devoted to a career in both patient care and basic science research applied to neuropsychiatric disease. His goal is to use his scientific and clinical skills to understand and investigate neuropsychiatric disorders in hopes of developing new pharmacologic treatments for patients. Dr. Pieper's general approach to identifying novel targets for the treatment of neuropsychiatric disorders is exemplified by the discovery and development of the P7C3-class of neuroprotective aminopropyl carbazoles. This work has provided a rational basis for new lines of investigation into the basic science mechanisms underlying neuron cell death, and may lead to development of a new class of neuroprotective drugs with applicability to traumatic brain injury, Parkinson's disease, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, peripheral nerve injury and other forms of neurodegeneration. Dr. Pieper’s laboratory is also implementing similar discovery approaches with other animal models of neuropsychiatric disease, such as pathologically compulsive disorder.

Matthew Potthoff, PhD

Matthew J. Potthoff, PhD

Departments of  Molecular and Cellular Biology and Pharmacology

Obesity and insulin resistance are major contributors to the epidemic of metabolic diseases including dyslipidemia, hypertension and type 2 diabetes. Research in the Potthoff Lab is focused on the physiological mechanisms that regulate energy homeostasis and insulin sensitivity.  We are specifically interested in unraveling pathways that govern systemic energy balance and glucose homeostasis in hopes of identifying a new therapeutic to treat obesity and metabolic disease. This has led  to studying the diverse functions of the endocrine hormone fibroblast growth factor 21 (FGF21) which acts in the brain to increase energy expenditure and regulate carbohydrate homeostasis. Utilizing novel mouse models, classical pharmacological methodologies, and state-of-the-art tracer techniques, we have uncovered novel mechanisms regulating glucose homeostasis and energy expenditure that could lead to new treatments for cardiovascular and metabolic disease.

Veena Prahlad

Veena Prahlad, PhD

Department of Biology

Dr. Prahlad's broad research interests are to understand cellular mechanisms of neurodegeneration and neuroprotection. Alzheimer’s Disease, Parkinson’s Disease, Huntington’s Disease etc. are debilitating age-related diseases for which there are currently no interventions to reduce cell dysfunction and death. All cells possess  protective gene expression programs which can, in many cases, dramatically ameliorate toxicity and neuronal death in animal models of these diseases.  However, in these degenerative disease, for unknown reasons, these protective mechanisms are not effectively activated. Our laboratory studies how these conserved, cytoprotective, gene expression programs are controlled. To address this, we use a combination of biochemical, cellular, molecular, and genetic approaches in the model organism C. elegans and in mammalian cell lines.