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Distinguished Scientist Lecture October 13, 2017, 12:00 pm - 1:30 pm WPIC Auditorium

Distinguished Scientist Lecture

The Stable Brain: Mechanisms of Homeostatic Plasticity in Health and Disease

 Graeme Davis, PhD
 Morris Herzstein Distinguished Professor of Medicine
 University of California, San Francisco






Graeme Davis received his PhD in Neuroscience and Behavior at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst working in the laboratory of Rodney Murphey and did his postdoctoral work at UC Berkeley with Corey S. Goodman. Dr. Davis began his independent career at UCSF in 1998 and has remained there ever since serving as vice chairman and then chairman of the Department of Biochemistry and Biophysics. Dr. Davis is currently the Morris Hertzstein Distinguished Professor of Medicine. The Davis lab is most well known as a pioneer in the field of homeostatic plasticity publishing some of the first research papers and reviews on this topic. By harnessing the power of forward genetics, the Davis lab defined many of the first underlying molecular mechanisms of homeostatic plasticity that controls presynaptic neurotransmitter release, a process conserved throughout evolution, from insects to humans. Despite recent progress, the field of homeostatic plasticity remains a wide-open area of investigation. Many fundamental questions remain unanswered. How are the functional properties of individual nerve cells and neural circuits specified during development and stably maintained throughout life? In the face of potent stabilizing mechanisms, how can neural circuitry be modified to allow for life-long learning and memory? How can homeostatic signaling systems control neural function with quantitative accuracy? At what scale do homeostatic signaling systems function, individual neurons, neural ensembles or entire circuits? How do homeostatic mechanisms interface with disease? Progress in this field promises to open new avenues for the treatment of neurological diseases that are characterized by neuronal malfunction including epilepsy, autism, addiction, post-traumatic stress disorder and psychosis. But, we remain at the very beginning of the process of mechanistic discovery. And, we absolutely must define the underlying mechanisms of homeostatic plasticity to probe how these powerful, compensatory processes participate in development, disease and aging. 

Learning Objectives: At the conclusion of this lecture, participants should be able to:

  1. Define a system that is under homeostatic control
  2. Define the fundamental processes that achieve the homeostatic regulation of synaptic transmission
  3. Define the intersection of homeostatic plasticity and the genetics of neurological disease

Continuing Education Credit:  The University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine is accredited by the Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education to provide continuing medical education for physicians.  The University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine designates this educational activity for a maximum of 1.5 AMA PRA Category 1 CreditsTM.  Each physician should only claim credit commensurate with the extent of their participation in the activity. Other health care professionals are awarded .15 continuing education units (CEUs), which are equal to 1.5 contact hours.  In accordance with Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education requirements on disclosure, information about relationships of presenters with commercial interests (if any) will be included in materials which will be distributed at the time of the conference.  WPIC is approved by the American Psychological Association to offer continuing education for psychologists.  WPIC maintains responsibility for this program and its contents. This program is being offered for 1.5 continuing education credits. 

For more information regarding this lecture, please contact Frances Patrick at