Conte Center

Vanderbilt / NIMH Silvio O. Conte Center for Neuroscience Research

small new conte logo

Vanderbilt University
465 21st Avenue South
Nashville, TN 37232
For more information,
please contact Denise Malone.

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Randy Blakely, Ph.D.

Dr. Blakely is the Director of the Vanderbilt/NIMH Silvio O. Conte Center for Neuroscience Research and the Executive Director of the Florida Atlantic University Brain Institute. For more information on his lab and general research interests, please see his laboratory's website.

The Blakely Conte Center project is entitled
Modeling the Serotonin Contribution to Autism Spectrum Disorders. Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is more prevalent than previously believed. The Blakely project focuses on a newly developed animal model carrying an ASD-associated gene variant in the serotonin transporter (SERT), Gly56Ala. SERT is responsible for inactivating serotonin in the brain and periphery; altered availability of serotonin may contribute to multiple components of ASD.

Dr. Jeremy Veenstra-VanderWeele serves as Co-Investigator on this Conte Project.

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Mark Wallace, Ph.D.

Dr. Mark Wallace is the Dean of the Graduate School and the Associate Director of the Vanderbilt Conte Center. Dr. Wallace oversees the education and outreach efforts within the Conte Center. Dr. Wallace is a Professor in the departments of Hearing and Speech Science, Psychology, and Psychiatry at Vanderbilt. To learn more about his research interests, visit his laboratory's website.

Dr. Wallace is the driving force behind our growing education and outreach programs.

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Pat Levitt, Ph.D.

In July of 2009, Dr. Levitt moved to the University of Southern California from Vanderbilt. He is Provost Professor of Neuroscience, Psychiatry, Psychology & Pharmacy, and the Director of the Neuroscience Graduate Program at the Keck School of Medicine. For additional information on Dr. Levitt’s research interests, please visit his website.

The Levitt project,
Influence of Placental Serotonin in Neural Development and Behavior, focuses on the role of placental serotonin levels on brain development. Disruption of serotonin prenatally relates to a growing body of evidence that subtle, deleterious effects on the fetus as it develops could lead to a lifetime of chronic mental health problems, including anxiety disorders, learning and emotional disabilities, and depression.

Dr. Alexandre Bonnin serves as Co-Investigator on this Conte Project.

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Evan Deneris, Ph.D.

Dr. Deneris is a Professor in the Department of Neurosciences at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio. His research focus is on transcriptional regulatory mechanisms that control development of neurotransmitter systems in vertebrates, especially on the serotonin and nicotinic cholinergic systems. More information on his laboratory’s research can be found on his website.

Early Brain Serotonin and Its Lasting Impact on Neuronal Epigenetic Programming is the Deneris Lab project. His team will focus on determining the impact of fetal and early postnatal 5-HT, produced specifically in the brain, in the epigenetic programming of 5-HT neuron homeostasis and HPA axis development. The hypothesis is that alterations in this layer of gene regulation is influenced by 5-HT and is involved in the pathogenesis of stress-related psychiatric disorders.

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Ronald Emeson, Ph.D.

Dr. Emeson is a Professor in the departments of Pharmacology, Psychiatry and Molecular Physiology & Biophysics, and is the Joel G. Hardman Chair in Pharmacology. Additional information about Dr. Emeson and his research can be found on his website.

The Emeson Conte project,
Stress-Mediated Alterations in Serotonin 2C Receptor Editing and Function, will examine the roles and mechanisms by which stress, both during early life and in adulthood, programs adaptive responses through altered RNA editing of transcripts encoding the 2C-subtype of serotonin receptor.