Researchers


We value collaboration between faculty and students towards impactful research. Below are our principal investigators, representing a range of departments in the university.

Director

Eleanor J. Clowney , Ph.D. Assistant Professor, Director of Kavli

Department of Molecular, Cellular and Developmental Biology

The Clowney lab studies the development of olfactory neural circuits mediating innate and learned behaviors in Drosophila melanogaster.

Research Publications

Assistant Directors

Ada Eban-Rothschild, Ph.D. Assistant Professor

Department of Psychology

Our lab studies the neuronal underpinnings of sleep and wake states, using a combination of molecular, cellular and behavioral approaches, including in vivo calcium imaging, optogenetics, chemogenetics and EEG/EMG recordings.

Research Publications

Brendon Watson, M.D, Ph.D. Assistant Professor

Department of Psychiatry

We study the structure and function of the neocortex in health and disease using high-density electrophysiologic approaches.

Research Publications


Members

Omar Ahmed, Ph.D. Assistant Professor

Department of Psychology, Department of Biomedical Engineering

The Ahmed lab uses human and rodent electrophysiology, two-photon imaging and computational modeling to study the neural circuits underlying sensory perception and spatial navigation, with a focus on how these circuits can be repaired in epilepsy, addiction and traumatic brain injury.

Research Publications


Pierre Apostolides, Ph.D. Assistant Professor

Kresge Hearing Institute, Department of Otolaryngology-Head & Neck Surgery

We study how small groups of neurons (microcircuits) work together to generate behaviorally relevant brain activity in the central auditory system. We address questions using an integrative approach that combines electrophysiology, 2-photon imaging and behavioral techniques. Our goal is to provide mechanistic and generalizable explanations for how the brain generates our sense of hearing, and to understand how these processes change during hearing disorders.

Research Publications


Sara Jo Aton , Ph.D. Assistant Professor

Department of Molecular, Cellular and Developmental Biology

Our lab studies how sleep promotes plasticity in sensory cortex and long-term memory formation in the hippocampus, using a combination of electrophysiological, pharmaco/optogenetic, and biochemical tools.

Research Publications

Stephanie Bielas, Ph.D. Assistant Professor

Department of Human Genetics

Human genetic studies provide insights into the etiology of neurodevelopmental disorders, the pathophysiology of which we investigate using genetically engineered mice and human induced pluripotent stem cells.

Research Publications

William Birdsong, Ph.D. Assistant Professor

Department of Human Genetics

The Birdsong lab is interested in understanding the molecules and circuits involved in mediating pain perception and addiction. We’re focused on the mechanisms by which opioids modulate synaptic transmission and the results of this activation on circuit function. We utilize brain slice electrophysiology, optogenetics, pharmacology and imaging to dissect these circuits and understand the effect of neuromodulators on communication between different cell types and brain regions, particularly focusing on communication between thalamus, cortex and striatum.

Research Publications

Christian Burgess, Ph.D. Assistant Professor

Department of Molecular and Integrative Physiology, MBNI

My research focuses on how different states of arousal and bodily homeostasis shape sensory processing, learning, and memory.

Research Publications

Dawen Cai, Ph.D. Assistant Professor

Department of Cell and Developmental Biology, Neuroscience Graduate Program, Biophysics of LS&A

My lab identifies neuronal subtypes, connections in brain circuits that correlate with behavior and studies neural subtype differentiation mechanisms during development at the single cell resolution.

Research Publications

Kamran Diba, Ph.D. Associate Professor

Department of Anesthesiology

I am interested how circuits of spiking neurons represent, encode, and transfer information and the roles of different brain states in these processes.

Research Publications

Bo Duan, Ph.D. Assistant Professor

Department of Molecular, Cellular & Developmental Biology

Our lab uses a combination of mouse genetics, histochemistry, neuroanatomical tracing, electrophysiology, in vivo imaging and behavior analyses to gain understanding of the development, organization, and function of neural circuits that underlie a variety of somatosensory modalities, such as temperature, touch, pain and itch.

Research Publications

Monica Dus, Ph.D. Assistant Professor

Department of Psychology

Our lab studies the effect of sugar on the brain; our goal is to discover how the nutrient regulation of transcription affects the plasticity of sensory and reward circuits to promote eating and obesity. We also generally interested in questions around genes, environment, and behavior, also known as neuroepigenetics. Techniques in the lab include behavioral assays, in vivo imaging, genomics, and molecular genetics.

Research Publications

Carrie Ferrario, Ph.D. Associate Professor

Department of Pharmacology

Neurobiology of motivation; implications for obesity and drug addiction.

Research Publications

Emily Jutkiewicz, Ph.D. Associate Professor

Department of Pharmacology

The Jutkiewicz laboratory investigates the behavioral and neurobiological effects of drugs of abuse with a large emphasis on studying traditional and novel opioid ligands. Other interests in the laboratory include delta-opioid receptor pharmacology, the long-term consequences of adolescent drug use, and the role of the gut microbiome in regulating CNS function.

Research Publications

Magdalena Ivanova, Ph.D. Assistant Professor

Department of Pharmacology

Central to our research, is understanding the molecular mechanism of protein aggregation associated with neurodegeneration. The ultimate goal is to develop strategies for reducing and/or preventing abnormal protein accumulations. Examples of ongoing research projects in the Ivanova Lab include investigations of α-synuclein, amyloid-β, UBQLN2, and RAN peptide aggregation. These proteins form pathological inclusions in Parkinson’s disease (PD), Alzheimer’s disease (AD), Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS), and Frontotemporal dementia (FTD). We utilize biochemical, cellular, and biophysical methods to study the abnormal aggregation of these proteins, and the toxicity that is associated with them.

Research Publications

Shigeki Iwase, Ph.D. Assistant Professor

Department of Human Genetics

We are interested in how chromatin is regulated for normal brain development and function.

Research Publications

Paul Jenkins, Ph.D. Assistant Professor

Department of Pharmacology, Department of Psychiatry

We study the basic cellular and molecular mechanisms underlying complex neuropsychiatric diseases, such as bipolar disorder and schizophrenia, using confocal microscopy, molecular and cell biology, transgenic mouse models, and biochemistry.

Research Publications

Kevin S. Jones, Ph.D. Assistant Professor

Department of Pharmacology

Studies Dysfunctional Glutamate Receptor transmission in Psychiatric Disease.

Research Publications

Daniel Leventhal, M.D, Ph.D. Assistant Professor

Department of Neurology

The Leventhal laboratory studies movement disorders, a group of diseases characterized by abnormal movement patterns despite normal strength and sensation. These include Parkinson Disease, Huntington Disease, dystonia, and tic disorders, among others. To do this, we use electrophysiogical, optical, and behavioral methods in healthy rodents and disease models.

Research Publications

Kenneth Y. Kwan, Ph.D. Assistant Professor

Department of Human Genetics, MBNI

Research in the Kwan laboratory is aimed at the molecular and cellular mechanisms that underlie normal neural circuit assembly in the cerebral cortex and their dysregulation in human neurodevelopmental disorders.

Research Publications

Samuel Kwon, Ph.D. Assistant Professor

Department of Molecular, Cellular, and Developmental Biology

To elucidate mechanisms that underlie sensory experience and learning in mammalian cortex.

Research Publications

Jonathan Morrow, M.D, Ph.D. Assistant Professor

Department of Psychiatry

We study individual differences in emotional learning that contribute to addiction, post-traumatic stress disorder and other psychiatric comorbidities.

Research Publications

Peng Li, Ph.D. Assistant Professor

Department of Biologic and Materials Sciences & Prosthodontics, U-M School of Dentistry

Department of Molecular and Integrative Physiology, U-M Medical School

The ultimate goal of our laboratory is to provide a molecular understanding of the neural control of breathing and how it goes awry in breathing disorders, which will lead to novel interventions to treat breathing arrhythmias.

Research Publications

Dinesh Pal, Ph.D. Assistant Professor

Department of Anesthesiology, Neuroscience Graduate Program, Center for Consciousness Science

We study neural mechanisms of physiological (sleep, wakefulness) and pharmacological (anesthesia, psychedelic) states of consciousness in rodents. In our studies we employ electroencephalographic recordings, in vivo neurotransmitter quantification, pharmacological interventions, and chemogenetic tools. We also use information-theoretic measures, complexity measures, and spectral analysis of electroencephalographic data to understand the neural changes accompanying different behavioral states.

Research Publications

Jillian Pearring, Ph.D. Assistant Professor

Molecular, Cellular and Developmental Biology Opthalmology and Visual Science

The Pearring lab studies the cellular and molecular mechanisms underlying intracellular transport of signaling proteins to the light-sensing organelle of vertebrate photoreceptor neurons.

Research Publications

Gideon Rothschild, Ph.D. Assistant Professor

Department of Psychology

The Rothschild lab studies the neural circuit mechanisms underlying sensation-memory interactions.

Research Publications

Michael T. Roberts, Ph.D. Assistant Professor

Kresge Hearing Research Institute, Department of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery

The overall aim of the Roberts Lab is to determine how neural circuits in the central auditory system extract and encode speech and other communication sounds. We pursue this aim using in vitro and in vivo electrophysiology, optogenetics, genetically engineered mice, viral transfections, and a range of anatomical techniques. Our long term goal is to determine how auditory circuits can be better engaged by auditory prostheses and other interventions to improve hearing for the hearing impaired.

Research Publications

Benjamin H. Singer, MD, PhD - Assistant Professor

Department of Internal Medicine, Pulmonary & Critical Care Medicine

We study the long-term effects of surviving critical illness, such as sepsis or pneumonia, on health. In particular, we are interested in how reprogramming of the immune system leads to persistent brain dysfunction and injury in critical illness survivors.

Research Publications

Joanna Spencer-Segal, M.D, Ph.D. Assistant Professor

Clinical Lecturer in Internal Medicine, MBNI


Natalie Tronson, Ph.D., Assistant Professor

Department of Psychology, Biopsychology

Our research aims to understand the intracellular signaling underlying memory formation and maintenance, and how other factors, including stress, inflammation, and sex can modify these processes and thereby strengthen or weaken memory.

Research Publications

Giancarlo Vanini, M.D, Assistant Professor

Department of Anesthesiology

My research focuses on the neural circuits that regulate interactive states of sleep and wakefulness, pain and anesthesia.

Research Publications


Wenjing Wang, Assistant Professor

Department of Chemistry

Specialized in bioorganic chemistry, protein engineering, cell biology and neuroscience, my research group is aspired to design a large array of new molecular tools and sensors that can be widely applied to address biological questions. We will harness the power of directed evolution to engineer first-in-class optogenetic and chemogenetic tools for mapping and manipulating molecular processes with a temporal control via light or drug, with a focus on GPCR signaling in the brain. These research tools will fill the gap where currently there is a lack of methods to monitor and manipulate GPCR signaling events in a large brain region with a high temporospatial control. Our long-term goal is to greatly expand the toolbox for addressing fundamental biological questions and designing new classes of biologic therapeutic reagents.

Research Publications


YU Wang, Assistant Professor

I am an epileptologist and neuroscientist with expertise in epilepsy and cortical development. The overall goal of my translational research program is to study refractory epilepsies and identify potential novel treatments. Specifically, we utilize in vivo rodent models and human genetics-pathology-electroclinical data to identify mechanisms contributing to malformation of cortical development and seizures.

Research Publications


Swathi Yadlapalli, Assistant Professor

Department of Cell and Developmental Biology

We study the neural and molecular mechanisms that regulate circadian clock function and the role these mechanisms play in human pathologies resulting from circadian disruption.

Research Publications


Alumni

Catherine A Collins, Ph.D. Assistant Professor

Department of Molecular, Cellular & Developmental Biology

Cell biology of axons.

Research Publications

Carol Elias, Ph.D. Associate Professor

Department of Molecular and Integrative Physiology, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology

Research in my laboratory is focused on the neural and molecular basis of the metabolic control of the reproductive function.

Research

Shelly B. Flagel, Ph.D. Founding Director, Associate Professor

Department of Pharmacology, MBNI

Neural circuitry underlying motivated and psychopathological behaviors.

Research Publications

Parag G Patil, M.D, Ph.D. Associate Professor

Department of Neurosurgery, Neurology, Anesthesiology and Biomedical Engineering

Research in the laboratory spans human intraoperative electrophysiology, image processing, finite-element modeling of electrical fields, clinical trials in neuromodulation and stem-cell therapies, and clinical outcomes research.

Research Publications

Brian A Pierchala, Ph.D. Associate Professor

Department of Biologic and Materials Sciences

Development and regeneration of the peripheral nervous system.

Research Publications

Srijan Sen, Ph.D. Associate Professor

Frances and Kenneth Esienberg Professor of Depression and Neurosciences MBNI

We utilize training physicians as a stress model to understand the biological mechanisms linking stress and depression

Research Publications

William C Stacey, M.D, Ph.D. Associate Professor

Department of Neurology, Department of Biomedical Engineering

Dr. Stacey's research utilizes computational modeling, signal processing, and data analysis to develop methods to characterize, detect and control seizures.

Research Publications


Kwoon Y Wong, Ph.D. Associate Professor

Department of Ophthalmology & Visual Sciences

Structure and function of the retina, with a focus on intrinsically photosensitive retinal ganglion cells (ipRGCs).

Research Publications


Bing Ye, Ph.D. Associate Professor

Life Sciences Institute, Department of Cell and Developmental Biology

Development of neural circuitry.

Research Publications