• Title Professor of Pharmacology & Experimental Therapeutics and Biology; Director of Graduate Program for Neuroscience
  • Education PhD, Boston University School of Medicine
  • Phone 617-638-4319
  • Area of Interest Neuropharmacology, Epilepsy, Gene regulation of Neural Circuits

Current Research

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, 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 chemical libraries and re-purposed therapeutics.

Selected Publications

  • Hixson KM, Cogswell M, Brooks-Kayal AR, Russek SJ (2019) Evidence for a non-canonical JAK/STAT signaling pathway in the synthesis of the brain’s major ion channels and neurotransmitter receptors. BMC Genomics. (1):677. doi: 10.1186/s12864-019-6033-2. PMID:31455240
  • Li Z, Cogswell M, Hixson K, Brooks-Kayal AR, Russek SJ (2018) 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. 11:285. doi: 10.3389/fnmol.2018.00285. eCollection 2018. PMID:30186109
  • Thomas AX, Cruz Del Angel Y, Gonzalez MI, Carrel AJ, Carlsen J, Lam PM, Hempstead BL, Russek SJ, Brooks-Kayal AR (2016) Rapid Increases in proBDNF after Pilocarpine-Induced Status Epilepticus in Mice Are Associated with Reduced proBDNF Cleavage Machinery. eNeuro 3(1). pii: ENEURO.0020-15.2016. doi: 10.1523/ENEURO.0020-15.2016. PMID:27057559.
  • Huang S, Hokenson K, Bandyopadhyay S, Russek SJ, Kirkwood A (2015) Brief Dark Exposure Reduces Tonic Inhibition in Visual Cortex. J Neurosci. 35(48):15916-20. doi: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.1813-15.2015. PMID:26631472.
  • Raible DJ, Frey LC, Del Angel YC, Carlsen J, Hund D, Russek SJ, Smith B, Brooks-Kayal AR (2015) JAK/STAT pathway regulation of GABAA receptor expression after differing severities of experimental TBI. Exp Neurol. 271:445-56. doi: 10.1016/j.expneurol.2015.07.001. PMID:26172316.
  • Grabenstatter HL, Cogswell M, Cruz Del Angel Y, Carlsen J, Gonzalez MI, Raol YH, Russek SJ, Brooks-Kayal AR (2014) Effect of spontaneous seizures on GABAA receptor α4 subunit expression in an animal model of temporal lobe epilepsy. Epilepsia 55(11):1826-33. doi: 10.1111/epi.12771. PMID:25223733.
  • Smith CC, Martin SC, Sugunan K, Russek SJ, Gibbs TT, Farb DH (2014) A role for picomolar concentrations of pregnenolone sulfate in synaptic activity-dependent Ca2+ signaling and CREB activation. Mol Pharmacol. 86(4):390-8. doi: 10.1124/mol.114.094128. PMID:25057049.
  • Grabenstatter HL, Russek SJ, Brooks-Kayal AR (2012) Molecular pathways controlling inhibitory receptor expression. Epilepsia 53 Suppl 9:71-8. doi: 10.1111/epi.12036. Review PMID:23216580.
  • Raible DJ, Frey LC, Cruz Del Angel Y, Russek SJ, Brooks-Kayal AR (2012) GABA(A) receptor regulation after experimental traumatic brain injury. J Neurotrauma 29(16):2548-54. doi: 10.1089/neu.2012.2483. PMID:22827467.
  • Brooks-Kayal AR, Russek SJ (2012) Regulation of GABAA Receptor Gene Expression and Epilepsy. In: Noebels JL, Avoli M, Rogawski MA, Olsen RW, Delgado-Escueta AV, editors. Jasper’s Basic Mechanisms of the Epilepsies [Internet]. 4th edition. Bethesda (MD): National Center for Biotechnology Information (US); 2012. PMID:22787609.

View all profiles