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Your Environment. Your Health.

Neurobiology Laboratory

Jerrel L. Yakel, Ph.D.
Jerry Yakel, Ph.D.
Chief, Neurobiology Laboratory and Senior Investigator
Tel 984-287-3466
Fax 301-480-3483
P.O. Box 12233
Mail Drop F2-08
Durham, N.C. 27709
Serena M. Dudek, Ph.D.
Serena M. Dudek, Ph.D.
Deputy Chief, Neurobiology Laboratory and Senior Investigator
Tel 984-287-3513
Fax 301-480-3483
P.O. Box 12233
Mail Drop F2-04
Durham, N.C. 27709

Research Summary

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.

Brain illustration showing interaction between circuits, functions, cells and genes.
The schematic represents the range of scientific research taking place in the Neurobiology Laboratory.

Shared and Core Facilities

For more information about facilities that support research activities at the NIEHS campus, please see Shared and Core Facilities.

Ongoing Investigations in the Neurobiology Laboratory:

  • Acetylcholine receptor channel function in hippocampus
  • Epigenetic effects of DNA methylation
  • Mammalian brain development
  • Microglia dysfunction during neurodegeneration
  • 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
Administrative Specialist
Tel 984-287-3448
Fax 301-480-3483

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