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Welcome to the Walsh Lab

University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Research Interests

Our research aims to better understand the genetic, molecular and circuit mechanisms underlying behavioral impairments present in autism spectrum disorder (ASD). The ultimate goal of the Walsh Lab is to gain detailed mechanistic knowledge of the neural circuits involved in the pathophysiology of ASD that could inform the development of novel therapeutics and more targeted treatment strategies. 

For example, by studying how genetic and environmental disturbances lead to impaired sociability, we can elucidate the neural systems responsible for social interactions. Additionally, we utilize a systems level approach (including whole brain mapping, physiology, chemo- and optogenetics) in conjunction with transgenic mice to understand the causal relationships between activity in specific brain regions and the behavior under investigation.


Selected Publications

5-HT release in nucleus accumbens rescues social deficits in mouse autism model. 

Walsh JJ, Christoffel DJ, Ben-Dor GA, Selimbeyoglu A, Taylor M, Hung LW, Deisseroth K, Malenka RC. (2018) Nature.

Rapid regulation of depression-related behaviours by control of midbrain dopamine neurons. 

Chaudhury D*, Walsh JJ*, Friedman AK, Juarez B, Ku SM, Koo JW, Ferguson D, Tsai HC, Pomeranz L, Christoffel DJ, Nectow AR, Ekstrand M, Domingos A, Mazei-Robison MS, Mouzon E, Lobo MK, Neve RL, Friedman JM, Russo SJ, Deisseroth K, Nestler EJ, Han MH. (2013) Nature.

Stress and CRF gate neural activation of BDNF in the mesolimbic reward pathway. 

Walsh JJ, Friedman AK, Sun H, Heller EA, Ku SM, Juarez B, Burnham VL, Mazei-Robison MS, Ferguson D, Golden SA, Koo JW, Chaudhury D, Christoffel DJ, Pomeranz L, Friedman JM, Russo SJ, Nestler EJ, Han MH. (2014) Nature Neuroscience.

Systemic enhancement of serotonin signaling reverses social deficits in multiple mouse models for ASD. 

Walsh JJ, Llorach P, Cardozo Pinto DF, Wenderski W, Christoffel DJ, Salgodo JS, Heifets BD, Crabtree GR, Malenka RC. (2021) Neuropsychopharmacology.

Selective filtering of excitatory inputs to nucleus accumbens by dopamine and serotonin. 

Christoffel DJ*, Walsh JJ*, Hoerbelt P*, Heifets BD, Llorach P, Lopez RC, Ramakrishnan C, Deisseroth K, Malenka RC. (2021) Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

*Co-first author

For a more complete list of publications, see the publications page.