Meet Our Team


Principal Investigator

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

As Director of the Laboratory of Molecular Neurobiology, Dr. Farb 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 Researchers

Marcia Ratner, Ph.D., D.A.B.T., Project Manager

Dr. Ratner is a Board Certified Toxicologist and Behavioral Neuroscientist. She is the senior member of the in vivo electrophysiology team which is actively investigating how chemicals alter learning and memory function and disease progression in freely behaving rodent models of age-related neurodegenerative disease. 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 objective 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.

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

Dr. Kumaresan’s overall research objective is to study activity-dependent neural plasticity and its relevance in learning and memory function in neurological and neuropsychiatric disorders. She is collaborating with Drs. Farb and Ratner to explore the role of neural plasticity elicited by neurosteroids in models of aging and neurodegenerative disease.  The knowledge gained from these studies is expected to elucidate the complex relationships between cognitive impairment and anxiety disorders such as PTSD.


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.  

Undergraduate Research Assistants

Manasvi Gummadi

Manasvi is an undergraduate majoring in Human Physiology at BU’s Sargent College of Health and Rehabilitation. She is also premed.  Manasvi is working with Drs. Farb and Ratner, assisting them with their experiments using in vivo electrophysiological methods to study the effects of novel cognitive enhancers on neural network activity correlates of memory function in a rodent model of Alzheimer’s disease.

Recent Alumni

Catherine Quinn, B.A.,

Catherine graduated from Boston University in 2021 with Honors in Biology with a specialization in Neurobiology. Under the supervision of Drs. Farb and Ratner, Catherine successfully defended her honors thesis titled “Investigation of Novel Environment Effects on Hippocampal Memory through Ripple Band Analysis”.   Congratulations Catherine!  Catherine is employed at PlateletBio.

Dr. Jun-li Zhen, Ph.D., M.D., Visiting Scholar

Dr. Zhen is aAssociate Professor of Neurology and Associate Chief Physician, at the Second Hospital of Hebei Medical University, Hebei, China. Jun-li While trained under the direct supervision of Dr. Farb. She received training in the use in vivo electrophysiological methods for studying neural network activity in a rodent model of Alzheimer’s disease.  Dr. Zhen’s training was supported by the Talent Training Program of the Second Hospital of Hebei Medical University grant to Dr. Farb. The Program serves to establish novel cooperative research relationships between investigators at the BUSM and those working at universities located in China.

Yunlong Bai, Ph.D., Visiting Scholar

Dr. Bai is currently a Professor and Chair of Pharmacology, and Deputy Dean of the College of Pharmacy at Harbin Medical University, Harbin, China.  While training under the direct supervision of Dr. Farb, Dr. Bai gained expertise in the use of high density silicon probes  for in vivo electrophysiological studies of changes in neurological function in rodent models of age-related neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s.  Dr. Bai’s research was supported by a Wing Tat Lee Award to Dr. Farb.   The Wing Tat Lee Award serves to establish novel cooperative research relationships between investigators at the BUSM and those working at universities located in China.  We look forward to future collaborations with Dr. Bai.


Dr. Nasiara Karim, Fulbright Postdoctoral Visiting Scholar

Dr. Karim is currently an Assistant Professor in the Department of Pharmacy, University of Malakand, Pakistan.  While she was a member of the Laboratory of Molecular Neurobiology, Dr. Karim trained under the direct supervision of Dr. Farb, investigating the effects various drugs on the neural network activity in rodent models of neurodegenerative disease using in vivo electrophysiological methods.

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


Conor Smith, Ph.D., Program in Biomolecular Pharmacology/ Program in Biomedical Neuroscience, 2014.  Conor completed a Post Doctoral Fellowship in the Laboratory of Dr. Mary Jo LaDu at the University of Illinois at Chicago.  He is currently a Technical Writer for Astellas Pharma US on behalf of PSC Biotech Corporation.

TM Stewart Tara Stewart, Ph.D., Program in Biomolecular Pharmacology/ Program in Biomedical Neuroscience, 2014. Tara is the Associate Director, Pipeline Management, Plasma-Derived Therapies R&D at Takeda.