Lisa Marie Monteggia, Ph.D.

Faculty Appointments
Barlow Family Director of the Vanderbilt Brain Institute Professor of Pharmacology Professor of PsychologyLee E. Limbird Chair in PharmacologyProfessor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences
Ph.D., Neuroscience, Chicago Medical School, Chicago, IllinoisM.S., Biology, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, IllinoisB.S., Microbiology, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, Illinois
Research Description
The main focus of my laboratory is on the molecular and cellular mechanisms that underlie psychiatric disorders. Our work to date covers two critical areas of molecular neuroscience. First, we have been investigating the role of neurotrophins, in particular brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), and the TrkB receptor in adult brain function using conditional and inducible cell type specific knockout mice. Our early work established a critical role for BDNF in determining antidepressant efficacy as well as certain aspects of depressive like behavior. More recently, we have been investigating the mechanism underlying the rapid antidepressant action of ketamine. Our second area of research aims to elucidate the role of MeCP2, a transcription factor, in synaptic function and behavior using mouse models of Rett syndrome. Our work has identified key synaptic deficiencies associated with Rett syndrome and defined specific brain regions that give rise to symptoms associated with the disorder in mouse models. Furthermore, this work also led to a thorough investigation of epigenetic factors, including MeCP2 and HDACs, that regulate synapse maturation and synaptic efficacy in the central nervous system. Epigenetic regulation of synapse function carries wide ranging implications that go beyond the etiology of Rett syndrome to mechanisms underlying other disorders including traumatic brain injury. Within the laboratory we combine advanced molecular, cellular, behavioral, and electrophysiological studies to probe these critical scientific questions at multiple steps, and thereby establish causal links among these diverse levels of analysis. These multi-based approaches are critical for understanding the brain, and yield insight into the study of depression, Rett syndrome, as well as related brain disorders. I have a long-standing history in these research areas and a sustained history in training students and postdocs to successfully transition into academic and industry research environments.

Research Keywords
neurotrophins, BDNF, antidepressant, depression, Mecp2, Neurodevelopmental disorders, Rett syndrome, Autism, lithium, synaptic transmission, molecular psychiatry