Principal Investigator

FARB David H. Farb, Ph.D., Professor and Chairman of Pharmacology

As head of the Laboratory of Molecular Neurobiology, he focuses on the identification of pharmacological treatments for mental disorders of learning and memory. His research integrates existing electrophysiological, behavioral, pharmacological, and molecular genetic technologies in a novel systems-level platform for assessing the impact of cognitive enhancers such as neuroactive steroids upon fundamental hippocampal systems for pattern separation (encoding), and pattern completion (retrieval) that are believed to be essential for cognition in all mammals, including man.

    Senior Laboratory Staff

    DowningScott-150x150 Scott Downing, Ph.D.Bioinformatics Research Scientist

    Dr. Downing is an experienced computer programmer who works closely with Dr. Ratner to develop the computer codes used for analysis of our in-vivo electrophysiological data.  He has written specialized codes to permit parallel processing of large data sets via an unsupervised machine learning technique. These codes facilitate efficient auto-sorting of waveforms into “clusters” of action potentials derived from a single neuron for subsequent statistical analysis. 

    10-3009-PHARMAHEAD_Kumaresan-015-150x150 Vidhya Kumaresan, Ph.D., Research Assistant Professor

    Dr. Kumaresan’s overall research objective is to study neuronal activity-dependent plasticity and its relevance for learning, memory and pathological plasticity under pinning brain disorders.  She collaborates with Dr. Farb in elucidating neuronal plasticity elicited by neurosteroids. The major focus of Dr. Kumaresan’s research is to understand the neurobiological bases of addiction to psychostimulants. Dr. Kumaresan employs a novel approach of using cell-permeable peptides that disrupt protein-protein interactions in vivo in order to study ongoing behavior. Knowledge gained from these studies will also be applicable to the treatment of other brain dysfunctions involving persistent memories such as PTSD.

      MHR 2 Marcia Ratner, Ph.D., Project Manager

      Dr. Ratner is the senior member of the in vivo electrophysiology team which is investigating how chemicals alter learning and memory function in freely behaving rodents.  The major advantage of in vivo electrophysiology over other functional measures of neural network activity such as regional cerebral blood flow is in the ability of this technology to effectively differentiate the activity of inhibitory interneurons from that of excitatory pyramidal cells both across brain regions and within subregions. This highly translational approach to drug discovery is well suited for target-based as well as repurposing studies of drug-induced changes in both single unit activity and local field potentials.   

      Graduate Students

      Ouyand Gou 3 Ouyang Guo, M.B., M.S., Ph.D. candidate, Program in Neurobiology.  Ouyang received her degree in Clinical Medicine from Huazhong University of Science and Technology in Wuhan, China, in 2014, and her masters degree in Anatomy and Neurobiology from the Boston University School of Medicine in 2016.  Her research interests include understanding the mechanisms of learning and memory function in neurodegenerative diseases. She is working with Drs. Farb and Ratner investigating the effects of different drugs and chemicals on neural network activity in rodent models of neurodegenerative disease using in vivo electrophysiological methods.

      Recent Alumni

      Sugunan Image

      Kavitha Sugunan, Ph.D. candidate, Program in Biomolecular Pharmacology/ Program in Biomedical Neuroscience 2015. Congratulations Kavitha!  Kavitha is employed at ClinTec International.


        Conor Smith, Ph.D., Program in Biomolecular Pharmacology/ Program in Biomedical Neuroscience, 2014.  Congratulations Conor! Conor is currently a Post Doctoral Fellow in the laboratory of Dr. Mary Jo LaDu at the University of Illinois at Chicago.

          TM Stewart Tara Stewart, Ph.D., Program in Biomolecular Pharmacology/ Program in Biomedical Neuroscience, 2014. Congratulations T! Tara is employed as a Life Sciences Consultant at Putnam Associates.

          Undergraduate Students



          Nina Li, majoring in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology/Biotechnology

          Nina is working with Dr. Vidhya Kumaresan researching the regulation of activity-dependent synaptic plasticity and surface expression of NMDA receptors by the neurosteroid, pregnenolone sulfate. In the upcoming semester, she plans on investigating the role of the phosphatase, Striatal-Enriched Protein Tyrosine Phosphatase 61 in PregS-mediated changes in surface expression of NMDARs.

            Unknown Adam A. Joyal, majoring in Neuroscience

            Adam is working with Dr. Vidhya Kumaresan.  Adam secured UROP funding for the spring semester of 2017 for his project Neurosteroid Mediated Modulation of Glutamate Trafficking. Over the coming semesters he plans on continuing his research into the effects of pregnenolone and its derivative pregnenolone sulfate on the synaptic recruitment of NMDA and AMPA receptors.