Jerry Yakel, Ph.D.
Chief, Neurobiology Laboratory and Principal Investigator
Serena M. Dudek Sommer, Ph.D.
Deputy Chief, Neurobiology Laboratory and Principal Investigator
Neurobiology is an integral part of environmental health sciences. Disruption of brain development and function produces life-long effects on human cognitive potential. Consequently, both early learning disabilities and aging-related neurodegeneration have become major public health concerns. Although there are many inherited mutations that result in mental retardation, other learning disorders, such as Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), and the three most prevalent neurodegenerative diseases, Alzheimer's, Parkinson's and Lou Gehrig's (ALS), all show very low concordance between monozygotic twins, implicating environmental factors in their onset and pathology.
The Neurobiology Laboratory investigates the cellular and molecular processes in the developing and aging nervous system that increase its vulnerability to environmental toxicants. The Laboratory also trains new investigators in the concepts and experimental techniques of neuroscience. Investigators in the Laboratory have expertise in neuronal and glial biology at all levels of mammalian brain organization from genes to behaving animals, particularly as it relates to gene expression, neuronal development, synaptic function and plasticity, ion channel proteins, and the inflammatory response to toxicity.
Ongoing Investigations in the Neurobiology Laboratory:
- Acetylcholine receptor channel function in hippocampus
- Epigenetic effects of DNA methylation
- Mammalian brain development
- Neural circuit formation and function
- Neuroinflammation and neurodegeneration
- Neurotoxicity of ethanol and nicotine
- Regulation of calcium signaling
- Regulation of gene expression in neuronal fate specification and in synaptic plasticity
- Regulation of ion channel activity by G protein signaling
- Regulation of synaptic plasticity in hippocampus
- Xenobiotic disruption of thyroid hormone signaling
Scientific Support Staff
Rita F. Jones
Tel (919) 541-1474
Fax (301) 480-3483
Donna M. Sullivan
Tel (919) 541-0281