Members E-K

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

Dan Eberl, PhD

Daniel F. Eberl, PhD

Department of Biology

Mechanosensation, an ancient and essential function, provides multicellular organisms with sensory information for hearing, balance and touch. Studying hereditary as well as environmental hearing loss is imperative, especially as our lifespan increases. The Eberl lab aims to understand genes associated with development, function and long-term maintenance of auditory organs, using the chordotonal organs in the Drosophila Johnston's organ as a model system. He studies conserved transcription factor cascades that specify these sensory organs. The chordotonal sensory neurons, as one of the few ciliated cell types in the fly, allow study of genes involved in ciliary development and function. Furthermore, his lab uses electrophysiology to test fly homologs of human hereditary hearing loss genes, and modeling of noise-induced hearing loss. He is also interested in specialized ion transport mechanisms that generate and maintain the receptor lymph, which resembles the endolymph compartments in the human inner ear.

Robert Felder, MD

Robert B. Felder, MD 

Department of Internal Medicine - Cardiovascular Medicine

The sympathetic nervous system is overactive in heart failure, and contributes to morbidity and mortality by promoting fluid accumulation, vasoconstriction, cardiac remodeling and serious ventricular arrhythmias. The Felder Laboratory studies the central nervous system mechanisms that activate the sympathetic nervous system in a rat model of heart failure that simulates human heart failure that develops after a myocardial infarction. We are particularly interested in the effects on the brain of humoral factors that increase in the circulation in heart failure as a result of activation of the immune system (i.e., pro-inflammatory cytokines) and of systems that attempt to compensate for the reduced pumping function of the failing heart (i.e., the renin-angiotensin-aldosterone system). Our molecular, immunohistochemical and electrophysiological and hemodynamic recording studies examine the effects of these humoral factors on the neurochemical milieu in central nervous system regions (in particular, the subfornical organ and the hypothalamic paraventricular nucleus) that regulate sympathetic nerve activity. The overall goal is to identify central nervous system mechanisms that might become the targets of therapeutic interventions to reduce sympathetic activity in this devastating disease. 

Jess Fiedorowicz

Jess Fiedorowicz, MD, PhD

Departments of Psychiatry, Epidemiology and Internal Medicine

Dr. Fiedorowicz's clinical and translational research in humans focuses on the course of illness of mood disorders and how this influences the primary causes of excess mortality: suicide and vascular disease. 

C. Andrew Frank, PhD

C. Andrew Frank, PhD

Department of Anatomy & Cell Biology

Homeostasis is a robust form of regulation that allows a system to maintain a constant output despite external perturbations. In the nervous system, homeostasis plays a critical role in regulating neuronal and synaptic activity. Yet the molecular basis of this form of neural plasticity is generally unknown. In the Frank Lab we address this problem using the fruit fly, Drosophila melanogaster. This model allows us to combine electrophysiology with powerful genetic and pharmacological techniques. The overall goal is to define conserved signaling mechanisms that direct synapses to maintain stable properties, like excitation levels. It is generally believed that molecules controlling the balance of excitation and inhibition within the nervous system influence many neurological diseases. Therefore, understanding synaptic homeostasis is of clinical interest. This area of research could uncover factors with relevance to the cause and progression of disorders such as epilepsy, which reflects a state of poorly controlled neural function.

John Freeman, PhD

John H. Freeman, PhD

Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences

Research in the Freeman Lab examines the neural circuitry underlying learning and memory. Our general approach is to use multiple systems neuroscience methods to identify neural circuits and neural circuit interactions necessary for learning. Our approach has shifted over the years from identifying the neural inputs and outputs necessary for learning to examining dynamic interactions among neural systems, including feedback loops and sensory gating. With this circuitry-based approach, our efforts primarily focus on three areas of learning and memory research: 1) associative motor learning, 2) categorization, and 3) the ontogeny of learning.

Bernd Fritzsch

Bernd Fritzsch, PhD

Department of Biology

Dr. Fritzsch investigates the molecular development of neurosensory cells of the ear (hair cells, sensory neurons, efferents) with the aim to delay, repair and restore neurosensory hearing loss and the loss of balance.  Current focus of the laboratory is on the use of neurotrophins to maintain innervation of the ear in the absence of hair cells. Recent work concentrates and the possible use of embryonic ear transplantations to investigate the molecular basis of pathfinding of afferents to enter the right nuclei in the brainstem. IN a collaborative work with the Hansen laboratory we are investigating molecular countermeasures to slow the growth of schwannoma. The laboratory uses a combination of molecular tools, transgenic animals, embryonic manipulations and pharmacological treatments in combination with various imaging techniques to analyze the outcomes of the targeted manipulations. 

Joel Geerling

Joel Geerling, MD, PhD

Department of Neurology

Deep in the brain, various circuits are constantly working to keep you alive – waking you from sleep, regulating your blood pressure, making you thirsty, and so on. Many age-related diseases affecting the brain, including Dementia with Lewy Bodies and Alzheimer’s Disease, deteriorate of some of these circuits. Unfortunately, our knowledge of the neurons and wiring diagrams in these circuits remains primitive, severely limiting the development of effective treatments for symptoms like insomnia, incontinence, drops in blood pressure, lack of thirst, and other age-related neural circuit disorders. To better understand neural circuits responsible for many of these symptoms, the Geerling Laboratory uses cutting-edge neuroscience tools and genetic targeting to map out new types of neurons and circuit connectivity, and then probe each connection for effects on physiology (blood pressure, breathing, bladder control) and behavior (sleep/wake, drinking/eating, motivation/attention). We have identified neurons and connections that regulate sodium appetite, body temperature, hunger, and continence, and our primary focus now is the arousal system, which maintains conscious wakefulness.

Jeremy Greenlee, MD

Jeremy Greenlee, MD

Department of Neurosurgery

Dr. Greenlee's primary research interest is in understanding the neural mechanisms of vocal sensorimotor integration and speech motor control. This interest developed during a 6-year residency at Iowa, including a 2 year research fellowship in electrophysiology. Building on this foundation, he completed a NIDCD K23 mentored research training award, “Speech sound processing within human auditory cortex during self-vocalization,” after joining the faculty. He now studies  speech motor control physiology and effective connectivity between anterior cingulate, laryngeal motor, and auditory cortices, and works closely with neurology and neuroscience colleagues on intraoperative neurophysiology focusing on cortical and subcortical interactions during speech and cognitive tasks.  

Justin Grobe, PhD

Justin Grobe, PhD

Department of Pharmacology

The Grobe Lab studies the role of the hypothalamus in the regulation of autonomic and neuroendocrine functions, ultimately to understand neural mechanisms controlling blood pressure and energy homeostasis and thereby hypertension, obesity, and obesity-associated cardiovascular disease.  Currently we are specifically focused on (i) the role of the hypothalamic renin-angiotensin system and its intracellular signaling mechanisms in the control of blood pressure and resting metabolic rate, and (ii) the role of the neurohypophysis and arginine vasopressin in the pathogenesis of the pregnancy-related cardiovascular disorder, preeclampsia.

Laurie Gutmann, MD

Laurie Gutmann, MD

Department of Neurology

Dr. Gutmann has been involved in clinical research for neurological diseases for the last 25 years, primarily focused on neuromuscular diseases, currently myotonic dystrophy, ALS and hereditary neuropathies. Another major interest is education of early clinical investigators.  She is co-PI of a Clinical Trials Methodology Course, funded by the NIH/NINDs, for early investigators to develop projects with guidance from clinical trialists and biostatisticians. In the UI Institute for Clinical and Translational Science, she is Associate Director of Workforce Development. As part of the NIH Network for Excellence in Neuroscience Clinical Trials (NeuroNEXT) Clinical Coordinating Center, she is in charge of Site Support and Management. She is co-investigator on an NINDS R01 for longitudinal brain and muscle MRI and functional study in myotonic dystrophy, co-PI of a Charcot Marie Tooth (CMT) disease study of pulmonary function and CMT 2A, a site PI for a multicenter myasthenia gravis trial, and co-investigator for several ALS and stroke trials. Dr. Gutmann sees patients in several multidisciplinary clinics.  Board certified in Neurology, Clinical Neurophysiology, Vascular Neurology, and Neuromuscular Medicine, her mix of experiences and settings/perspectives gives her a unique view of clinical research, development of clinical researchers, and the importance of collaboration across disciplines.

Eliot Hazeltine, PhD

Eliot Hazeltine, PhD

Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences

Dr. Hazeltine's research focuses on learning how people match external stimuli with internal states to choose responses and engage in flexible, goal-directed behaviors. He has approached this problem using a range of methodologies, including neuropsychology and neuroimaging. Although this work represents a diverse set of findings, a central theme is that response selection processes are not generic but instead depend on the specifics of the task and the context in which it is embedded. That is, tasks are represented as more than just a collection of stimulus-response associations. The brain appears to encode rich representations of the task and these representations have important effects on performance in terms of compatibility effects, learning, and control processes.

Matthew Howard

Matthew Howard, MD

Department of Neurosurgery

Dr. Howard is a neurosurgeon-scientist and director of the University of Iowa Human Brain Research Laboratory (HBRL).  A broad range of experimental studies are carried out within the HBRL making use of the unique opportunities to study normal human brain functions in patient-subjects who are undergoing clinically necessary neurosurgical procedures. HBRL research projects are organized around multi-disciplinary collaborative teams of neuroscientist and clinician-scientists from leading neuroscience research centers in the U.S. and overseas. Researchers use novel combinations of invasive and non-invasive experimental methods to address questions about the functional organization of the human brain that cannot be answered using non-invasive methods alone.     

Mathews Jacob, PhD

Mathews Jacob, PhD

Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering

The main focus of Dr. Jacob's research is two synergistic research areas: development of machine learning algorithms that can learn the structure from noisy and sparse/missing data, and the application of the above algorithms to advance the state of the art in neuro-imaging technology, including MRI and microscopy. The first line of research (machine learning algorithms) is key to the interpretation and discovery of knowledge in the vast amounts of data generated by advanced in-vivo neuroimaging methods, which are often corrupted by physiological noise and imaging artifacts. In the second area, we use the structure learned by the algorithms to improve the state of the of imaging methods such MRI and microscopy; specifically, the learned structure is used to constrain the reconstruction of the images from noisy and sparse/missing observations (accelerated MR imaging). 

Bahri Karacay, PhD

Bahri Karacay, PhD

Department of Pediatrics

Dr. Karacay's research focuses on the abnormalities of the developing nervous system that are caused by two neuroteratogenic agents: alcohol, (fetal alcohol syndrome) and lymphocytic choriomeningitis virus (congenital LCMV infection). While these two research programs, particularly fetal alcohol syndrome, constitute the core of his scholarly efforts, he also has been interested in development of gene therapy for Alexander Disease, a disease of cerebral white matter that affects children. 

Alan Kay, PhD

Alan Kay, PhD

Department of Biology

Ion and water fluxes play an important role in nervous systems; from generating action potentials to the damaging water fluxes induced by trauma. The sodium pump is a primary driver of these fluxes, establishing the asymmetry of sodium & potassium ions across the membrane, which is necessary from generating action potentials. Particular interests in the Kay Lab are how the pump stabilizes cell volume counteracting the Donnan effect induced by impermeant molecules and controls water flux. The coupling of ion fluxes by groups of cells also plays a central role in sensory transduction. In collaboration with Dr. Dan Eberl, we study how the coupling of different cell types in the fly ‘ears’, which are housed in its antennae, make it exquisitely sensitive to movement.

Youngcho Kim

Youngcho Kim, PhD

Department of Neurology

Dr. Kim studies the role of the dopaminergic system in cognitive function. The dopaminergic dysfunction in the prefrontal cortex contribute cognitive dysfunction in Parkinson’s disease and Schizophrenia. His current research focuses on the influence of dopamine on prefrontal networks controlling cognitive behaviors such as timing and decision making. By combining optogenetics and neuronal ensemble recordings in transgenic animals, he interrogates cell-type specific neuronal circuit in awake, behaving animals. This work contributes to the development of new treatment strategies for affected neurological diseases.

Toshi Kitamoto PhD

Toshihiro Kitamoto, PhD

Department of Anesthesia and Pharmacology

The Kitamoto Lab is interested in gene-gene and gene-environment interactions that have a significant impact on the regulation of physiological and pathological behaviors. Using the fruit fly Drosophila melanogaster as an experimental organism, our current projects aim at elucidating 1) how diet, gut microbiota, and genes involved in lipid metabolism affect neural development and function to modify neurological phenotypes of voltage-gated sodium channel mutants, and 2) how “non-genomic” steroid signaling via G-protein coupled receptors regulates complex behaviors in response to internal and external environmental factors.