Our lab is focused on the influence of early-life experiences on developing brain circuits and on the underlying plasticity mechanisms that promote health or disease.  We probe these at molecular, cellular, circuit and functional/behavioral levels using viral- and chemo-genetic techniques, in vivo electrophysiology and imaging, and epigenomic and single-cell transcriptomic methodologies.

Current Topics of Research in the Lab Include 

a) How early-life adversity/stress provokes anhedonia, and the underlying perturbations of the maturation of reward/pleasure circuitry.

b) How early-life adversity/stress provokes spatial memory deficits and the transcriptional / epigenomic mechanisms that re-program hippocampal neurons and circuits

c) How prolonged early-life seizures, especially those associated with fever, disrupt the maturation of hippocampal circuits and memory processes

d) Intra-individual methylomics in rodents and humans as predictive biomarkers of early-life adversity-induced cognitive and emotional problems

e) How multiple concurrent acute stresses, such as occur in mass shootings and natural disasters, impact memory processes in males and females.

Tallie Z. Baram

       Prof. Baram is the Danette Shepard Professor of Neurological Sciences, with appointments in several departments at UCI. Baram is a developmental neuroscientist and child neurologist and has focused her efforts on the influence of early-life experiences on the developing brain, and on the underlying mechanisms. She is studying this broad topic in two contexts: a) How early-life experiences, including adversity/stress, influence resilience and vulnerability to cognitive and emotional disorders; and b) how early-life seizures, especially those associated with fever, can convert a normal brain into an epileptic one, with associated memory problems.

        Baram has strong track-records in the use of cutting-edge molecular, epigenetic and MR imaging methods to uncover how adverse early-life experiences sculpt circuit maturation in the developing brain, focusing on memory-, stress- and reward-related networks. In addition, she is uncovering the orchestrated converging actions of multiple mediators (including endogenous local corticotropin-releasing hormone, CRH) on the stabilization or destruction of individual synapses/spines during stress in the mature brain. Her work on these topics has been cited > 20,000 times (H = 84, google scholar). 

        Baram and her work have been internationally recognized, as is apparent from awards including the NIH NINDS Javits Merit Award and the premier Research Awards of the AES (2005), CNS (2013), ANA (2014) and AAN (2018).  Baram has strived to contribute to the scientific community by, for examples, chairing NIH study sections and involvement in editorial boards and professional organizations. Baram has a passion and commitment to mentoring: She is PI of one of only two NIH-funded T32s focused on Epilepsy, and mentor of several recently funded NIH K awardees. Baram’s prior trainees from diverse countries and backgrounds are now contributing independently to basic, translational and clinical neuroscience.

Lab News: 

AUGUST | The lab, a part of the ConteCenter @ UCI, has validated that unpredictable signals to the developing brain influence brain circuit maturation rodents and in humans. These findings were observed both in California and in Finland! (link to paper)

JULY | Annabel has a prestigious review in press: Short, A.K. & Baram T.Z. (in press). Adverse early-life experiences and neurologic disease: Age-old questions and novel answers. Nature Reviews Neurology. (link is coming soon)

JUNE | Jessica received an NIMH K99/R00 Pathway to Independence Grant; Annabel organized a symposium at the International Behavioral Neuroscience Society.

MAY | Undergrad Aidan, Kathleen, Keshav, Ryan, and Ashima shone at UROP Annual Symposium and Excellence in Research of School of Bio Sci.

APRIL | Rachael presented at the CNLM annual symposium.

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