University of Pittsburgh

Department of Neuroscience

Research

The Department of Neuroscience in the Kenneth P. Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences at the University of Pittsburgh provides outstanding undergraduate and graduate education with innovative independent and collaborative research, a well-rounded curriculum, and a seminar series by the world's most renowned leaders in the field of neuroscience.  

We maintain the research excellence upon which the department was founded.  Our department's external research funding for the past fiscal year (FY10 ending June 2010) totaled $4,679,185 and included support from The National Institutes of Health, The National Science Foundation, NARSAD, and the RiMed Foundation.  This amount of external grant support per faculty would rate us in the top 15 of all physiology departments in this country according to the most recent survey of the American Physiological Society.  The majority of our primary faculty have won special awards related to their research.  Drs. Anthony A. Grace and Bita Moghaddam currently have R37 MERIT awards from the National Institute of Mental Health division of the National Institutes of Health.  Dr. Alan F. Sved's Predoctoral Training in Basic Neuroscience, an NIH training grant, jointly funded by the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS) and the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) provides support for 8 predoctoral trainees per year and was recently funded for another five year period. 

Last year our research budget helped to support the work of 37 graduate students including five students in the Department’s Masters Degree Program, five research assistant professors, 12 postdoctoral and research associates, 14 research staff and numerous undergraduate students.   It also underwrote the research reported in more than 75 published articles in 2007-2008 and even more presentations at national or international meetings. These research reports were published in top neuroscience journals and several were singled out for special recognition.

Faculty laboratory facilities are located in the Clapp-Langley-Crawford complex or in the Mellon Institute.  In October of 2007, the state-of-the-art Life Science Annex was completed to house new labs for Drs. Moghaddam, Grace, Sved, Rinaman, and Card.  In addition, the fourth floor of Langley Hall was recently renovated for new laboratories for Drs. Card, Rinaman, Sesack, and Sved.  Crawford Hall, which currently houses the laboratories of Drs. Barrionuevo, Johnson, Meriney and Wood, will also undergo major renovations in the near future.  

Faculty in the department are also members of the Center for Neuroscience at the University of Pittsburgh, which includes more than 85 faculty at Pitt and the School of Medicine to provide exceptional doctoral training.   Our undergraduate major is thriving and has grown to more than 300 students.  The department encourages interested undergraduate majors to gain research experience within an active neuroscience laboratory and many students do. To learn more, see the undergraduate research page.

 

Research disciplines:

Behavioral/Systems/Cognitive

Charles W. Bradberry: Neurochemical and cognitive traits in primates associated with chronic exposure to drugs of abuse or a predisposition to self-administer them.

J. Patrick Card: Functional organization of hypothalamus and central autonomic networks.

Carol L. Colby: Cortical mechanisms of memory, attention, and spatial representation in primates.

Julie A. Fiez: Neuroimaging and behavioral studies of language, working memory, motivation, and learning.

Neeraj J. Gandhi: Neural control of coordinated oculomotor and skeletomotor movements.

Anthony A. Grace: Neurophysiology of basal ganglia system related to psychiatric disorders.

Robert E. Kass: Statistical analysis of neural data.

Tai Sing Lee: Computational and electrophysiological study of visual perception, perceptual organization, neural plasticity and neural coding; computer vision.

Bita Moghaddam: Cellular basis of goal-directed behavior and animal models of schizophrenia.

Carl R. Olson: Cortical mechanisms of cognition in primates.

Linda Rinaman Neural circuits for stress responses and emotional learning: organization and postnatal development.

Susan R. Sesack: Functional neuroanatomy of cortical and brainstem monoamine systems.

Marc Sommer: Neuronal circuits mediating perception, cognition, and action in primates.

Edward M. Stricker: Central control of homeostatic regulatory systems.

Alan F. Sved: Central neural control of the autonomic nervous system and cardiovascular function; neurobiology of nicotine pharmacology.

Nathaniel N. Urban: Physiology imaging and computation in the olfactory system.

Bill J. Yates: Vestibular influences on autonomic control and navigation.

 

Cell and Molecular

 

German Barrionuevo: Synaptic physiology in hippocampus and prefrontal cortex

Alison Barth: Plasticity in developing and adult neocortex.

Jon W. Johnson: Biophysics, pharmacology, and regulation of glutamate receptors.

Stephen D. Meriney: Regulation and modulation of presynaptic ion channels and transmitter release.

Joel R. Stiles: Spatially realistic simulations of neurotransmitter release, synaptic transmission and plasticity.

 

Development/Plasticity/Repair

 

Stephen D. Meriney: Regulation and modulation of presynaptic ion channels and transmitter release.

Joel R. Stiles: Spatially realistic simulations of neurotransmitter release, synaptic transmission and plasticity.

 

Neurobiology of Disease

 

Donald B. DeFranco: Signal transduction and neurodegeneration.

Anthony A. Grace: Neurophysiology of basal ganglia system related to psychiatric disorders.

Teresa G. Hastings: Oxidative mechanisms associated with neurodegeneration.

David A. Lewis: Functional architecture of the prefrontal cortex and schizophrenia.

Bita Moghaddam: Cellular basis of goal-directed behavior and animal models of schizophrenia.

Susan R. Sesack: Functional neuroanatomy of cortical and brainstem monoamine systems