Marcia H. Ratner, Ph.D., DABT
Assistant Professor of Pharmacology, Physiology & Biophysics
Dr. Marcia Ratner earned her Bachelor of Arts degree 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 Chobanian & Avedisian 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, Physiology and Biophysics. Dr. Ratner is a Diplomate of the American Board of Toxicology. She is also certified to administer and score the Montreal Cognitive Assessment (MoCA) which allows researchers and healthcare professionals to detect cognitive deficits due to age-related mild cognitive impairment, Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease and other forms of dementia.
Dr. Ratner is the Director of the Laboratory of Neurotoxicology. Her 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 continues to collaborate with her former mentor Dr. David Farb, Director of the Laboratory of Molecular Neurobiology. She is using in vivo electrophysiological techniques in her preclinical studies of how chemicals (drugs and neurotoxicants) modulate neural network activity in wild type and transgenic animal models of age-related neurodegenerative disease (Hippocampus, 2015; Heliyon, 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 and drug discovery tool. Her work has played a key role in promoting and advancing the use of in vivo electrophysiology as an applied science in preclinical neurotoxicology research (Frontiers in Toxicology, 2022). 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; Neuroimmunology Reports, 2022).
Dr. Ratner is a member of the teaching faculty of the Division of Graduate Medical Sciences (GMS) and a core faculty member of the Behavioral Neurosciences Program; she is available to serve as a primary mentor and committee member to doctoral students enrolled in GMS doctoral programs. She has previously taught courses in Forensic Toxicology (BT 450) and Introductory Toxicology offered through the Biomedical Laboratory and Clinical Sciences Program which prepares students for careers in the fields of biotechnology and clinical research. Dr. Ratner has served as a mentor to undergraduate students enrolled in Bioscience Academy. 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 various programs are invited to seek graduate training and internship opportunities under her supervision in the Laboratory of Neurotoxicology.
Committees and Administrative Duties
Dr. Ratner is the Research Compliance Manager of the Department in which capacity she oversees compliance with safety and regulatory policies. She currently serves on the departmental Equipment and Infrastructure Committee and she has previously served as a departmental representative to the Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (IACUC). She is available to provide assistance to all departmental faculty, students and research staff with their IACUC protocol submissions and associated training and compliance issues.
Professional Society and Editorial Contributions
Dr. Ratner serves as a Councilor on the executive committee of the Neurotoxicology Specialty Section of the Society of Toxicology. She is also an active member of the American Academy of Clinical Toxicology where she currently serves as a representative to the Scientific Liaison Coalition. In addition, she is a member of the American Academy of Neurology, American Psychological Association and the International Neurotoxicology Association.
Advocacy and Extracurricular Work
In her spare time 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. In addition, Dr. Ratner has also served as a scientific advisor to the Workplace Safety Insurance Board of Ontario, Canada. 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 is also an alumna and Life Member of the Zeta Upsilon Chapter of Alpha Phi Omega at Boston University.
Dr. Ratner was recently interviewed by Dr. Hackie Reitman of Different Brains about their thoughts on the state of the art in Alzheimer’s drug discovery research as it specifically pertains to patients with Down syndrome.
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.