|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 Members
|Scott Downing, Ph.D., Bioinformatics Research Scientist
Dr. Downing earned his doctoral degree from the Department of Pharmacology here at the BUSM. He is an electrical engineer with extensive experience in computer programming. He works closely with Drs. Farb and Ratner to develop the specialized computer codes necessary for analysis of the large amounts of data acquired in our in-vivo electrophysiological studies. Dr. Downing also oversees implementation of the parallel computer processing and unsupervised machine learning techniques necessary to efficiently and reliably sort the waveforms of action potentials from individual neurons into “clusters” for subsequent analysis.
Dr. Nasiara Karim, Fulbright Postdoctoral Visiting Scholar
Dr. Karim received her Ph.D. degree in neurosciences from the faculty of Pharmacy, University of Sydney, Australia and her M.Phil and Pharm-D degrees from the Department of Pharmacy, University of Peshawar, Pakistan. She is an assistant Professor in the Department of Pharmacy, University of Malakand, Pakistan. Her research interests include areas of neuroscience, molecular pharmacology and neuropharmacology and focused on identifying natural and synthetic ligands for GABA-A receptors to be effective for treating anxiety, neuropathic pain, epilepsy and learning and memory disorders using electrophysiological, radioligand binding studies and behavioral animal models. Currently she is working with Dr. Farb and Dr. Ratner investigating the effects various drugs on the neural network activity in rodent models of neurodegenerative disease using in vivo electrophysiological methods.
|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.
|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 implicated in various aspects of cognition.
Kavitha Sugunan, Ph.D. candidate, Program in Biomolecular Pharmacology/ Program in Biomedical Neuroscience 2015. Congratulations Kavitha! Kavitha is employed at ClinTec International.