Scharfman Lab

Head of Lab

Helen Scharfman, PhD

Altered Excitability and the Etiology of Diverse Psychiatric Conditions

Research led by Helen E. Scharfman, PhD, in the Scharfman Lab, focuses on altered excitability and the etiology of diverse neurological and psychiatric conditions. Our scientists mainly use animal models, assessing rodents with seizures or with a mutation leading to AD brain pathology and cognitive impairments. Our goals are to use drugs to normalize this excitability in rodents and determine which agents improve symptoms. Our intent is to develop new therapeutic approaches for humans.

We are defining the fundamental circuitry of complex brain areas like the hilus of the dentate gyrus; as such, one of our projects addresses the normal role of neurons born in the dentate gyrus during adulthood. Adult-born neurons may keep the neural activity of the dentate gyrus low, which could be crucial to dentate gyrus cognitive functions. We are also studying the mossy cells of the dentate gyrus, in addition to hippocampal area CA2 and whether it is more powerful than its size would predict. Our translational research assesses the use of selective suppression or enhancement of adult-born neurons to treat epilepsy and whether inhibiting mossy cells or CA2 can influence epilepsy in animal models. Our lab also investigates early abnormal electrical activity as a biomarker in an AD mouse model and therapeutic approaches to suppressing this activity.


All publications

Scharfman lab members

Yi-Ling Lu
Postdoctoral Fellow
Christos Lisgaras
Postdoctoral Fellow
David Alcantara
Postdoctoral Fellow

John LaFrancois
Research Scientist

Elissavet Chartampila
Research Assistant

Chiara Criscuolo
Postdoctoral Fellow

Kasey Gerencer
Research Assistant