Marcia H. Ratner, PhD, DABT
Doctorate: Boston University School of Medicine, Behavioral Neuroscience
Post-Doctoral Fellowship: Boston University School of Medicine, NIH/NIA Fellow in Biochemistry of Aging
Board Certification: Diplomate American Board of Toxicology
Dr. Marcia Ratner earned her Bachelor of Arts in Psychology from Boston University. While an undergraduate at BU, she also completed her pre-medical requirements, made the Dean’s list, and was a member of Psi Chi, the International Honor Society in Psychology. She went on to earn her Doctorate in Behavioral Neuroscience from the Boston University School of Medicine where she trained in the Department of Neurology under the supervision of Drs. Robert G. Feldman and Raymon Durso. She subsequently completed a three year NIH/NIA Post-Doctoral Fellowship in the Biochemistry of Aging under the guidance of Dr. David H. Farb here in the Department Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics at the BUSM. Dr. Ratner is also a Diplomate of the American Board of Toxicology.
Dr. Ratner is an active member of several societies of professional toxicologists including the: Society of Toxicology, American Academy of Clinical Toxicology, American Society for Cellular and Computational Toxicology, and International Neurotoxicology Association. She is also a member of several professional clinical medical societies that reflect upon her expertise in clinical research including the American Academy of Neurology, American Psychological Association, and the American Academy of Clinical Toxicology. Dr. Ratner has served as a scientific advisor to the Workplace Safety Insurance Board of Ontario, Canada. Dr. Ratner serves on the editorial boards of Toxicology Communications and Frontiers in Toxicology (Neurotoxicology Specialty Section). She also serves as an ad hoc reviewer for several other professional clinical toxicology and medical journals and she is registered as a reviewer with Publons. Her contributions to the field of occupational and environmental neurotoxicology are recognized in the popular book ““Poisoned: How a Crime-Busting Prosecutor Turned His Medical Mystery into a Crusade for Environmental Victims“.
Dr. Ratner’s research is focused on interdisciplinary investigations looking at the effects of neurotoxicants and drugs on the subclinical progression and onset of age-related neurodegenerative diseases associated with learning and memory deficits such as Alzheimer’s disease and age-related mild cognitive impairment. Her interdisciplinary translational approach to understanding the role of chemicals in neurodegenerative disease onset and progression is reflected in her publication history and her NIH iCite translation score. She collaborates with the Department Chairman, Dr. David Farb, in the Laboratory of Molecular Neurobiology. She is using basic behavioral and in vivo electrophysiological techniques in her preclinical studies of how chemicals (drugs and neurotoxicants) modulate neural network activity in wild type and transgenic rat models of age-related neurodegenerative disease (Hippocampus, 2015; Heliyon, 2021). She also collaborates with several clinical colleagues to bring her observations from the bench to the clinic (AJIM, 2018; JOEM, 2019; Toxicol Comm, 2020; AJIM, 2021). Dr. Ratner is the only board certified toxicologist listed on Google Scholar who is also an expert in the use of in vivo electrophysiology as a preclinical research tool.
As the Project Manager of the Department and a Board Certified Toxicologist, Dr. Ratner oversees compliance with safety and regulatory policies. Dr. Ratner is a former member of the American Conference of Governmental Industrial Hygienists (ACGIH) and she has served as a departmental representative to the Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (IACUC). Dr. Ratner is available to provide assistance to all departmental faculty, students and research staff with their IACUC protocol submissions and associated training and compliance issues.
In addition to her research and administrative duties within the Department of Pharmacology, Dr. Ratner is a regular lecturer in the graduate program in Behavioral Neurosciences; she is available to serve as a committee member or mentor to the doctoral students from this program. She also teaches an undergraduate course in Forensic Toxicology (BT 450) offered through the Biomedical Laboratory and Clinical Sciences Program which prepares students for careers in the fields of biotechnology and clinical research. Dr. Ratner regularly serves as a mentor to undergraduate students enrolled in Bioscience Academy. The Bioscience Academy is a BU-based federally funded program administered through Metropolitan College and the School of Medicine. One of Dr. Ratner’s former Bioscience Academy students, Zainab Mahmod, was awarded the Paul Queenan Memorial Award for academic excellence. Highly qualified students from these programs are invited to seek internship opportunities under her supervision in the Laboratory of Molecular Neurobiology.
Dr. Ratner regularly engages in advocacy work on behalf of the Michael J. Fox Foundation and DifferentBrains.org. She has traveled to Washington, DC for “Hill Day” with the MJFF. She has lobbied congress for increased funding for neurodegenerative disease research and for improved access to care for persons living with Parkinson’s disease. She is a regular blogger and serves as the Volunteer Director of Research at DifferentBrains.org.
Ratner MH, Downing SS, Guo O, Odamah KE, Stewart TM, Kumaresan V, Robitsek RJ, Xia W, Farb DH. Prodromal dysfunction of α5GABA-A receptor modulated hippocampal ripples occurs prior to neurodegeneration in the TgF344-AD rat model of Alzheimer’s disease. Heliyon, September 2021, 7(9): e07895. doi: 10.1016/j.heliyon.2021.e07895.
Rutchik J, Bowler RM, Ratner MH. A rare case of Holmes tremor in a worker with occupational carbon monoxide poisoning. Am J Ind Med. 2021 Feb 22. doi: 10.1002/ajim.23235. Epub ahead of print. PMID: 33616228
Ratner MH, Ewing WM, Rutchik JS. Neurological Effects of Chronic Occupational Exposure to Alcohol Mists and Vapors in a Machinist. Toxicology Communications, 2020; 4(1): 43-48. doi: 10.1080/24734306.2020.1768341
Rutchik J, Ratner MH: Should Age at Onset of Parkinsonism be the End Point of Interest in Investigations of the Link Between Exosomal α-Synuclein and Manganese Exposure in Welders? JOEM, 2019; 61(12): e530-e531. PMID: 31568106.
Ratner MH, Kumaresan V, Farb DH: Neurosteroid Actions in Memory and Neurologic/Neuropsychiatric Disorders. Front. Endocrinol. 2019; 10:169. PMID: 31024441.
Rutchik J, Ratner MH. Is it Possible for Late Onset Schizophrenia to Masquerade as Manganese Psychosis? J Occup Environ Med. 2018 Apr; 60(4):e207-e209. PMID: 29438152
Ratner MH, Jabre JF, Ewing WM, Abou-Donia M, Oliver LC: Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis—A case report and mechanistic review of the association with toluene and other volatile organic compounds. Amer J Ind Med, 2018; 61(3):251–260.
Ratner MH, Fitzgerald E. Understanding of the role of manganese in parkinsonism and Parkinson disease. Neurology. 2017; 88(4):338-339. PMID: 28031391
Ratner MH, and Jabre JF: (2016) Neurobehavioral Toxicology. In Reference Module in Neuroscience and Biobehavioral Psychology, Elsevier, ISBN 9780128093245
Ratner MH. A critical review of the interrelationships between genetics, neurotoxicant exposure, and age at onset of neurodegenerative diseases. Current Topics in Toxicology. 2016; (12):1-10. Embase PUI: L616391802
Ratner MH: Editorial: The Future Role of In vivo Electrophysiology in Preclinical Drug Discovery. EC Pharmacology and Toxicology 2016 Sept; 2(2):108-109.
Robitsek RJ*, Ratner MH*, Stewart TM, Eichenbaum HB, Farb DH: Combined Administration of Levetiracetam and Valproic Acid Attenuates Age Related Hyperactivity of CA3 Place Cells, Reduces Place Field Area, and Increases Spatial Information Content in Aged Rat Hippocampus. Hippocampus. 25(12):1541–1555. PMID: 25941121 * Drs. Ratner and Robitsek contributed equally to this work and share first authorship.
Ratner MH, Farb DH, Ozer JS, Feldman RG, Durso R: Younger Age at Onset of Sporadic Parkinson’s Disease Among Subjects Occupationally Exposed to Metals and Pesticides. Interdisciplinary Toxicology. 2014 7(3):123–133. PMID: 26109889
Farb DH, Ratner MH. Targeting the modulation of neural circuitry for the treatment of anxiety disorders. Pharmacol Rev. 2014 Oct;66(4):1002-32. PMID: 25237115.
Ozer J, Ratner M, Shaw M, Bailey W, Schomaker S. The current state of serum biomarkers of hepatotoxicity. Toxicology. 2008 Mar 20;245(3):194-205. PMID: 18291570.
Ratner MH, and Feldman, RG: Environmental Toxins and Parkinson’s Disease. In: Pfeiffer, R.F., and Ebadi M. (eds): Parkinson’s Disease. Boca Raton, CRC Press, Chapter 6, pp 51-62, 2005.
Ratner MH, Feldman RG, and White RF: Neurobehavioral Toxicology. In: Ramachandran V.S. (Ed); Encyclopedia of the Human Brain. New York, Elsevier Science, Vol. 3, pp 423-439, 2002.
Feldman RG, Ratner MH. The pathogenesis of neurodegenerative disease: neurotoxic mechanisms of action and genetics. Curr Opin Neurol. 1999 Dec;12(6):725-31. Review. PMID: 10676756.
Feldman RG, Ratner MH, Ptak T. Chronic toxic encephalopathy in a painter exposed to mixed solvents. Environ Health Perspect. 1999 May;107(5):417-22. PMID: 10210698
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.
Robitsek R, Ratner MH, Stewart TM, Gallagher M, Eichenbaum H, Farb DH: Acute administration of levetiracteam and valproic acid reduces hippocampal hyperactivity and improves place cell function in aged rats. Program/Poster No. 773.03 Presented at Society for Neuroscience Annual Meeting, Washington, D.C., Society for Neuroscience, 2013. Online.
Ratner MH, Desbien SC, Pierce RC, Gibbs TT (2007) Pregnanolone hemisuccinate inhibits priming-induced reinstatement of cocaine seeking in rats. Presented at Experimental Biology Annual Meeting, Washington, D.C., 2007. FASEB Journal 21(6): A779.
Ratner MH, Desbiens S, Pierce RC, Gibbs TT, Farb DH: Pregnanolone hemisuccinate inhibits reinstatement of cocaine seeking behavior in rats. Program/Poster # 591.13/PP79. Presented at Society for Neuroscience Annual Meeting, Atlanta GA, Society for Neuroscience, 2006. Online.
Dr. Ratner was recently interviewed by Thomas Collins of Neurology Today about her thoughts on recent data looking at the relationships between cortical thickness, plasma proteins and cognition in 9-11 World Trade Center Responders.