Experts in neurosteroids

The core faculty members in the Taylor Family Institute conduct collaborative interdisciplinary research on natural and synthetic neurosteroid molecules and investigating those substances as potential anesthetic agents as well as possible treatments for psychiatric illnesses.

Investigators involved in the Institute have expertise in chemical synthesis, molecular biochemistry, ion channel biology, cellular and synaptic neurobiology and behavioral testing in animal models.

The core team of researchers with the Institute involves a team of internationally-recognized, interdisciplinary experts and has produced the following:

Medicinal and computational chemistry

Central to understanding the actions of steroids and in developing novel therapeutics is to define the chemical features of steroids that underlie activity and clinical benefit. Outstanding skills in medicinal chemistry are an essential element in the Institute.

Molecular biochemistry and target identification

The direct physical identification of the positions at which steroids associate with target proteins is an essential step in defining the sites of action. Evers and Chen are molecular biochemists using unique chemical biology tools from Institute chemists. As an anesthesiologist, Evers also provides expertise in animal models of anesthesia and clinical applications.

Channel Biophysics

After a steroid interacts with a target, the function of the target must be altered in some fashion to mediate the behavioral effects.

Gustav Akk, Ph.D.

Associate Professor Anesthesiology

Dr Akk’s lab is interested in how ligand-gated ion channel work. We focus on the GABAA and nicotinic acetylcholine receptors.

Joe Henry Steinbach, Ph.D.

Professor of Anesthesiology

Cellular and Synaptic Biology

Most common neuropsychiatric illnesses reflect synaptic dysfunction, or disorders in communication between neurons. Drs. Mennerick, Izumi and Zorumski are cellular neurophysiologists who study the effects of neurosteroids on synapses in brain areas important for mood and cognition. As a psychiatrist, Dr. Zorumski provides expertise in potential clinical applications of new molecules.

Neuroinflammation

Neuroinflammation is involved in a host of brain problems, including depression and Alzheimer’s disease, among others. Increasing evidence implicates oxysterols, especially 25-hydroxycholesterol, in the immune response of the brain.

Behavioral Research 

A critical bridge in moving molecular and cellular observations towards therapeutic use involves behavioral studies of candidate compounds in animal models of human disorders.