Research Areas

The Biomedical Sciences department houses 13 independent neuroscience research labs studying the function and dysfunction of brain circuits to advance our understanding and ultimately treatment of brain disease, neurological damage, and mental illness.  Our highly-collaborative teams address difficult questions at multiple levels of analysis within the following focus areas.


Cellular Signaling & Plasticity

astrocytesCommunication and change are critical features of neural circuits that support behavior, with dysfunction often leading to disease. Spanning all levels of neuroscience, strengths in this area include expertise in mechanisms of genetic plasticity, synaptic signaling, and circuit-level remodeling in neural systems important for human health. 


Research Labs: Baker, Blackmore, Choi, Cullinan, Evans, Gasser, Ghasemzadeh, Gilmartin, Hearing, Lobner, Peoples, Savtchouk, Wheeler


Cognition & Memory

data image from twining et al, 2020Learning, memory, and flexible decision-making allow us to adaptively respond in a variety of situations.  Researchers in this group are working to characterize the brain areas and mechanisms used to acquire, encode, and use information to guide behavior. Their research is shedding light on higher-order brain processes. 


Research Labs:  Baker, Ghasemzadeh, Gilmartin, Hearing, Peoples, Savtchouk, Wheeler  


Motivation & Affect

heatmap fiber photometryResearchers in this area are working to characterize the brain areas and mechanisms that regulate mood and drive us to pursue pleasurable stimuli. Their findings are shedding light on the neuropathology that underlies addiction, mood disorders, and obesity.



Research Labs: Baker, Choi, Cullinan, Gasser, Ghasemzadeh, Gilmartin, Hearing, Savtchouk, Wheeler


Behavioral Neuroendocrinology

scn stainedNeural circuits regulate hormones and in turn are modulated by hormones. Strengths in this research area include feeding, metabolism, stress neurobiology, circadian rhythms, and sexual differentiation of neural processing. 


Research Labs: Choi, Cullinan, Evans, Gasser, Gilmartin, Hearing