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Laboratory of Neurobiology

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 Laboratory of Neurobiology (LN) 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. David L. Armstrong, Ph.D.(, is the Acting Chief of the LN.

Brain illustration showing interaction between circuits, functions, cells and genes.

Ongoing Investigations in the Laboratory of Neurobiology:

  • Neuronal gene expression
  • Thyroid hormone signaling
  • Receptor-dependent signaling through G proteins
  • The activity of voltage-gated ion channels
  • The strength of synapses and their elimination
  • Excitotoxicity in neurons and circuits
  • Nicotine receptor channel function in brain
  • The neuronal response to ethanol
  • The neuronal response to chemical injury, including neurogenesis
  • The activation and deactivation of microglia

Scientific Support Staff

Susan Johnson
Administrative Specialist
Tel (919) 541-0281
Fax (919) 541-4611

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Last Reviewed: September 12, 2008