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NameEmailPhD ProgramResearch InterestPublications
Walsh, Jessica
WEBSITE
EMAIL
PUBLICATIONS

PHD PROGRAM
Neuroscience, Pharmacology

RESEARCH INTEREST
Behavior, Neurobiology, Pharmacology, Physiology, Translational Medicine

Social behavior is composed of a variety of distinct forms of interactions and is fundamental to survival. Several neural circuits must act in concert to allow for such complex behavior to occur and perturbations, either genetic and/or environmental, underlie many psychiatric and neurodevelopment disorders. The Walsh lab focuses on gaining an improved understanding of the biological basis of behavior using a multi-level approach to elucidate the molecular and circuit mechanisms underlying motivated social behavior. The goal of our research is to uncover how neural systems govern social interactions and what alterations occur in disease states to inform the development of novel therapeutics or treatment strategies.

One of the major focuses of the Walsh lab is on understanding how genetic mutations, as well as experience, lead to circuit adaptations that govern impaired behavior seen in mouse models of autism spectrum disorders (ASD). Our systems level analysis includes: 1) modeling these disorders with well described genetic markers, 2) defining causal relationships between activity within discrete anatomical structures in the brain that are critical to the physiology of the symptom under investigation (e.g. sociability), 3) performing deep characterization of the physiological profiles of these circuits and using that information to target specific receptors or molecules that may not have been considered for the treatment of specific ASD symptoms.

Pegard, Nicolas
WEBSITE
EMAIL
PUBLICATIONS

PHD PROGRAM
Neuroscience

RESEARCH INTEREST
Behavior, Cell Biology, Molecular Biology, Neurobiology

Our lab develops computer-driven optical instrumentation for applications in biology and neurosciences, beyond traditional imaging systems. Our research is interdisciplinary and welcomes backgrounds in optical engineering, computer sciences, biology or neurosciences. Our primary goal is to develop optical brain-machine interfaces and other technologies that use advanced light sources and detectors to probe and manipulate cellular functions deep into tissue at depths where traditional microscopy tools can no longer retrieve images.

Coleman, Leon
WEBSITE
EMAIL
PUBLICATIONS

PHD PROGRAM
Pharmacology

RESEARCH INTEREST
Behavior, Cancer Biology, Cell Signaling, Drug Discovery, Immunology, Molecular Biology, Neurobiology, Pharmacology, Translational Medicine

The overriding goal of Dr. Coleman’s work is to identify novel treatments for alcohol use disorders (AUD) and associated peripheral disease pathologies. Currently, this includes: the role of neuroimmune Signaling in AUD pathology, the role of alcohol-associated immune dysfunction in associated disease states, and novel molecular and subcellular mediators of immune dysfunction such as extracellular vesicles, and regenerative medicine approaches such as microglial repopulation.

Jiang, Guochun
WEBSITE
EMAIL
PUBLICATIONS

PHD PROGRAM
Biochemistry & Biophysics

RESEARCH INTEREST
Behavior, Biochemistry, Cell Biology, Cell Signaling, Chemical Biology, Drug Discovery, Immunology, Metabolism, Molecular Biology, Molecular Medicine, Neurobiology, Pathogenesis & Infection, Pharmacology, Translational Medicine, Virology

Antiretroviral therapy (ART) is effective in suppressing HIV-1 replication in the periphery, however, it fails to eradicate HIV-1 reservoirs in patients. The main barrier for HIV cure is the latent HIV-1, hiding inside the immune cells where no or very low level of viral particles are made. This prevents our immune system to recognize the latent reservoirs to clear the infection. The main goal of my laboratory is to discover the molecular mechanisms how HIV-1 achieves its latent state and to translate our understanding of HIV latency into therapeutic intervention.

Several research programs are undertaking in my lab with a focus of epigenetic regulation of HIV latency, including molecular mechanisms of HIV replication and latency establishment, host-virus interaction, innate immune response to viral infection, and the role of microbiome in the gut health. Extensive in vitro HIV latency models, ex vivo patient latency models, and in vivo patient and rhesus macaque models of AIDS are carried out in my lab. Multiple tools are applied in our studies, including RNA-seq, proteomics, metabolomics, highly sensitive digital droplet PCR and tissue RNA/DNAscope, digital ELISA, and modern and traditional molecular biological and biochemical techniques. We are also very interested in how non-CD4 expression cells in the Central Nervous System (CNS) get infected by HIV-1, how the unique interaction among HIV-1, immune cells, vascular cells, and neuron cells contributes to the initial seeding of latent reservoirs in the CNS, and whether we can target the unique viral infection and latency signaling pathways to attack HIV reservoirs in CNS for a cure/remission of HIV-1 and HIV-associated neurocognitive disorders (HAND). We have developed multiple tools to attack HIV latency, including latency reversal agents for “Shock and Kill” strategy, such as histone deacetylase inhibitors and ingenol family compounds of protein kinase C agonists, and latency enforcing agents for deep silencing of latent HIV-1. Several clinical and pre-clinical studies are being tested to evaluate their potential to eradicate latent HIV reservoirs in vivo. We are actively recruiting postdocs, visiting scholars, and technicians. Rotation graduate students and undergraduate students are welcome to join my lab, located in the UNC HIV Cure Center, for these exciting HIV cure research projects.

Dickerson, Brad

EMAIL
PUBLICATIONS

PHD PROGRAM
Bioinformatics & Computational Biology, Biology, Neuroscience

RESEARCH INTEREST
Behavior, Computational Biology, Neurobiology, Organismal Biology, Physiology

Research in my lab focuses on how motor output is structured by precise sensory input. To do so, we study the flight control circuitry of the fruit fly, Drosophila melanogaster. By studying these questions in Drosophila, we can leverage the powerful genetic toolkit available for the mapping, imaging, and manipulation of neural circuits. The lab directs its attention on structures that are unique to flies, known as the halteres, which act as dual-function gyroscopes that help structure the wingstroke. We take an integrative approach, combining in vivo imaging, muscle physiology, and behavior.
Rodríguez-Romaguera, Jose
WEBSITE
EMAIL
PUBLICATIONS

PHD PROGRAM
Neuroscience

RESEARCH INTEREST
Behavior, Neurobiology, Pharmacology

Psychiatric disorders such as Anxiety and Autism Spectrum Disorders are often characterized by a rapid and amplified arousal response to stimuli (hyperarousal), which is often followed by a motivational drive to avoid such stimuli. Our lab studies the neuronal circuits that drive hyperarousal states by monitoring neuronal activity with single-cell precision using in vivo calcium imaging techniques in both head-fixed (two-photon microscopy) and freely-moving (miniature head-mounted microscopes) mice to record and track the activity of hundreds of individual neurons with both genetic and projection specificity.

Linnstaedt, Sarah
WEBSITE
EMAIL
PUBLICATIONS

PHD PROGRAM
Genetics & Molecular Biology

RESEARCH INTEREST
Behavior, Computational Biology, Genetics, Neurobiology, Translational Medicine

Trauma and stress are common in life. While most individuals recover following trauma/stress exposure, a substantial subset will go on to develop adverse neuropsychiatric outcomes such as chronic pain, posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), depression, and postconcussive symptoms. Our research is focused on understanding individual vulnerability to such outcomes and to identify novel biomarkers and targets for therapeutic intervention. We use translational research approaches, including bioinformatics analysis of large prospective human cohort data, animal model research, and systems and molecular biology to better understand pathogenic mechanisms. We are particularly interested in the genetic and psychiatric/social factors influencing adverse outcome development, as well as biological sex differences that contribute to higher rates of these outcomes in women vs men.

Giovannucci, Andrea
WEBSITE
EMAIL
PUBLICATIONS

PHD PROGRAM
Neuroscience

RESEARCH INTEREST
Behavior, Computational Biology, Neurobiology, Physiology

The neural engineering laboratory seeks to replace motor and cognitive functions lost by injury or disease via optical non-invasive neuroprostheses. Bidirectional (i.e. sensory and motor) photonic interfaces with intact portions of the nervous system can help recover functions lost in distant injured brain regions. The lab deploys experimental (brain imaging, optogenetics) and computational (deep neural networks, machine learning algorithms) techniques to modulate and record brain activity in closed-loop and real-time. The laboratory also develops open-source tools for the neuroscience community.

Fitting, Sylvia
WEBSITE
EMAIL
PUBLICATIONS

PHD PROGRAM
Neuroscience

RESEARCH INTEREST
Behavior, Cell Biology, Neurobiology, Pathogenesis & Infection, Pharmacology

Our lab studies the underlying structural and functional substrates of behavior in disease using rodent models. Specifically our goal is to develop a better understanding of how cellular function in the CNS is affected by drug-related substances (opioids, cannabinoids) in the context of HIV infection. That includes the study of how drugs of abuse exacerbate the pathogenesis of neuroAIDS but also the study of targets within the endocannabinoid system for the potential treatment of HIV. We use various in vivo and in vitro techniques, including primary cell culture models, behavioral conditioning tasks, live cell imaging, and electrophysiology.

Hige, Toshi
WEBSITE
EMAIL
PUBLICATIONS

PHD PROGRAM
Biology, Cell Biology & Physiology, Neuroscience

RESEARCH INTEREST
Behavior, Genetics, Neurobiology, Physiology

Flexibility of the brain allows the same sensory cue to have very different meaning to the animal depending on past experience (i.e. learning and memory) or current context. Our goal is to understand this process at the levels of synaptic plasticity, neural circuit and behavior. Our model system is a simple brain of the fruit fly, Drosophila. We employ in vivo electrophysiology and two-photon calcium imaging together with genetic circuit manipulation. Taking advantage of this unique combination, we aim to find important circuit principles that are shared with vertebrate systems.