Scott S. Downing, Ph.D.


Bioinformatics Research Scientist

Department of Pharmacology & Experimental Therapeutics

Ph.D.: Boston University School of Medicine


Dr. Scott Downing earned his doctoral degree in Pharmacology from the Boston University School of Medicine where he trained under the supervision of Dr. Terrell Gibbs.

Dr. Downing completed a post-doctoral fellowship in the Department Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics where his worked included  investigations of novel therapeutic approaches for the treatment of anxiety and cognitive deficits by screening for and characterizing potential drugs at application-specific GABAA receptor subtypes. While a post-doctoral fellow Dr. Downing co-led a high-throughput screening center conducting ion channel screening projects for three pharmaceutical companies and redesigned a high-throughput, drug screening system to automate data analysis and reduce operational complexity, increasing the screening efficiency for ion channel modulators by 500%.  He coded digital signal processing and statistical analysis (digital filtering, nonlinear, least squares curve fitting and t tests) with LabVIEW and MATLAB. Constructed a client/server network with Microsoft Windows 2000 and XP clients, MAC clients and a Redhat Linux server to centralize data storage and provide distributed data collection / analysis.

Dr. Downing’s is currently a member of our in vivo electrophysiology team.  His work is focused on studying potential therapeutics for cognitive and memory enhancement.  He has developed techniques and code (MATLAB) to analyze in-vivo electrophysiological data derived from our recordings of hippocampal place cell activity. He has implemented unsupervised machine learning techniques to sort the large number of waveforms recorded through each electrode and developed methods to remove hardware-based filtering artifacts from recorded data.

In addition to his research, Dr. Downing is a regular lecturer in the Molecular Neurobiology and Pharmacology course.

Downing, S.S., Lee, Y.T., Farb, D.H., and Gibbs, T.T. (2005) Benzodiazepine Modulation of Partial Agonist Efficacy and Spontaneously Active GABAA Receptors Support a Two-State Model of Allosteric Modulation. British Journal of Pharmacology, Aug;145(7):894

Berezhnoy, D., Gravielle, MC., Downing, S., Kostakis, E., Basile, A.S., Skolnick, P., Gibbs, T.T., and Farb, D.H. (2008) Pharmacological Properties of DOV 315,090, an ocinaplon metabolite. BMC Pharmacology, Jun 13; 8(1):11

Kumaresan V, Ratner MH, Sugunan K, Downing S, Casarella A, Li N, Joyal AA, Farb DH: Regulation of Activity Dependent Synaptic Plasticity and Synaptic Expression of Glutamate Receptors by the Neurosteroid Pregnenolone Sulfate: Implications for Learning and Memory. Program/Poster No. 576.25. Presented at Society for Neuroscience Annual Meeting, Washington, D.C.: Society for Neuroscience, 2017. Online.

Stewart TM, Ratner MH,  Downing SS, Farb DH:  An α5GABAA receptor negative allosteric modulator increases spatial selectivity of CA1 place cells and hippocampal dependent spatial memory. Program/Poster No. 846.16/TT84 Presented at Society for Neuroscience Annual Meeting, Washington, D.C.: Society for Neuroscience, 2014. Online.

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