Shelley J. Russek, PhD

Professor, Pharmacology & Experimental Therapeutics

Shelley Russek
72 E. Concord St Building A


Research Interests of the Russek Laboratory: Dysregulated Plasticity of the Nervous System

The plasticity of a neuron’s receptor systems at the membrane is a key feature of the brain that enables its development as well as its function throughout life, creating and responding to an ever-changing external and internal world. A glorious biological feature of existence, however, also contributes to mankind’s most devastating disorders. Dysregulated plasticity takes multiple forms, from the unrelenting seizures of an infant that later emerges with brain damage, to the manifestation of autism and schizophrenia, all begging for curative therapies. Our chief interests in the laboratory surround a desire to understand the genetic and epigenetic basis of neurotransmitter and neurotrophin receptor regulation. We believe that such an understanding will enable us to contribute to the future development of therapeutics that can tackle these complex human problems where plasticity has lost its balance in controlling brain inhibition and excitation.

We employ a variety of proteomic and transcriptomic techniques, including confocal fluorescence immunohistochemistry, western blot, proximity ligation assays, siRNA silencing, RNA and chromatin immunoprecipitation (ChIP) high density sequencing, methylation genome analysis, proximity ligation analysis, primary neuronal cultures, and in vivo models (rodent and zebrafish) to test hypotheses of disease etiology and potential strategies for novel molecular therapeutics using novel chemical libraries and re-purposed therapeutics.

Other Positions

  • Director, Graduate Program for Neuroscience, Boston University
  • Member, Genome Science Institute, Boston University
  • Graduate Faculty (Primary Mentor of Grad Students), Boston University Chobanian & Avedisian School of Medicine, Graduate Medical Sciences


  • Boston University, PhD
  • State University of New York at Stony Brook, MS
  • University of California, San Diego, BA


  • Published on 6/15/2022

    Tipton AE, Russek SJ. Regulation of Inhibitory Signaling at the Receptor and Cellular Level; Advances in Our Understanding of GABAergic Neurotransmission and the Mechanisms by Which It Is Disrupted in Epilepsy. Front Synaptic Neurosci. 2022; 14:914374. PMID: 35874848.

    Read at: PubMed
  • Published on 12/1/2021

    Tipton AE, George J, Ratner M, Farb D, Russek S. Data from single nuclei RNA-sequencing reveals a prodromal gene network response in excitatory neurons of a humanized rat Alzheimer's disease model. Alzheimers Dement. 2021 Dec; 17 Suppl 2:e058589. PMID: 34971150.

    Read at: PubMed
  • Published on 8/28/2019

    Hixson KM, Cogswell M, Brooks-Kayal AR, Russek SJ. Evidence for a non-canonical JAK/STAT signaling pathway in the synthesis of the brain's major ion channels and neurotransmitter receptors. BMC Genomics. 2019 Aug 28; 20(1):677. PMID: 31455240.

    Read at: PubMed
  • Published on 8/21/2018

    Li Z, Cogswell M, Hixson K, Brooks-Kayal AR, Russek SJ. Nuclear Respiratory Factor 1 (NRF-1) Controls the Activity Dependent Transcription of the GABA-A Receptor Beta 1 Subunit Gene in Neurons. Front Mol Neurosci. 2018; 11:285. PMID: 30186109.

    Read at: PubMed
  • Published on 7/9/2018

    Ruan QT, Yazdani N, Beierle JA, Hixson KM, Hokenson KE, Apicco DJ, Luttik KP, Zheng K, Maziuk BF, Ash PEA, Szumlinski KK, Russek SJ, Wolozin B, Bryant CD. Changes in neuronal immunofluorescence in the C- versus N-terminal domains of hnRNP H following D1 dopamine receptor activation. Neurosci Lett. 2018 09 25; 684:109-114. PMID: 30003938.

    Read at: PubMed
  • Published on 3/30/2016

    Thomas AX, Cruz Del Angel Y, Gonzalez MI, Carrel AJ, Carlsen J, Lam PM, Hempstead BL, Russek SJ, Brooks-Kayal AR. Rapid Increases in proBDNF after Pilocarpine-Induced Status Epilepticus in Mice Are Associated with Reduced proBDNF Cleavage Machinery. eNeuro. 2016 Jan-Feb; 3(1). PMID: 27057559.

    Read at: PubMed
  • Published on 12/2/2015

    Huang S, Hokenson K, Bandyopadhyay S, Russek SJ, Kirkwood A. Brief Dark Exposure Reduces Tonic Inhibition in Visual Cortex. J Neurosci. 2015 Dec 2; 35(48):15916-20. PMID: 26631472.

    Read at: PubMed
  • Published on 7/11/2015

    Raible DJ, Frey LC, Del Angel YC, Carlsen J, Hund D, Russek SJ, Smith B, Brooks-Kayal AR. JAK/STAT pathway regulation of GABAA receptor expression after differing severities of experimental TBI. Exp Neurol. 2015 Sep; 271:445-56. PMID: 26172316.

    Read at: PubMed
  • Published on 9/15/2014

    Grabenstatter HL, Cogswell M, Cruz Del Angel Y, Carlsen J, Gonzalez MI, Raol YH, Russek SJ, Brooks-Kayal AR. Effect of spontaneous seizures on GABAA receptor a4 subunit expression in an animal model of temporal lobe epilepsy. Epilepsia. 2014 Nov; 55(11):1826-33. PMID: 25223733.

    Read at: PubMed
  • Published on 7/23/2014

    Smith CC, Martin SC, Sugunan K, Russek SJ, Gibbs TT, Farb DH. A role for picomolar concentrations of pregnenolone sulfate in synaptic activity-dependent Ca2+ signaling and CREB activation. Mol Pharmacol. 2014 Oct; 86(4):390-8. PMID: 25057049.

    Read at: PubMed

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