Leadership

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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?

pieper

Andrew Pieper, MD, PhD

Associate Director - Strategic Partnerships

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.

Joshua Weiner, PhD

Joshua Weiner, PhD

Associate Director - Education and Outreach

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 - Translational Research

Departments of Psychiatry, Neurosurgery, Molecular Physiology and Biophysics

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.