Faculty


Department Chairs


Stephen C. Cannon, MD, PhD · Chair
Baljit S. Khakh, PhD · Executive Vice Chair
Nancy L. Wayne, PhD · Vice Chair, Instruction


Stephen C. Cannon, MD, PhD
Chair

Our laboratory studies how ion channels regulate the electrical excitability of cells and how defects in these channels lead to human disease. We have focused on a group of inherited conditions that alter the electrical excitability of skeletal muscle, including periodic paralysis and myotonia. Techniques applied toward this work include cellular electrophysiology , mathematical modeling, and genetically engineered mouse models.


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Baljit S. Khakh, PhD
Executive Vice Chair

We seek to understand the role of ATP signaling and glia in the operations of neural circuits. To this end, we utilize a number of methods including engineered receptors and proteins, imaging, mouse genetics and electrophysiology. The mouse, the microscope and the electrode are the core tools of the lab.


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Nancy L. Wayne, PhD
Vice Chair, Instruction

My research focuses on understanding mechanisms controlling reproduction. In vertebrates, CNS neurons synthesize and secrete the peptide GnRH. Using electrophysiology and optical imaging of GnRH neurons expressing a fluorescent transgene in fish, we analyze neurobiological functions under different reproductive and developmental conditions.


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Jeffrey S. Abramson, PhD

Our lab uses x-ray crystallography and a number of biochemical techniques to probe mechanisms of transport for several types of channels and transporters. The lab is an ideal format for hands-on learning with many interdepartmental collaborations.


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Marino DiFranco, PhD

My research focuses on skeletal muscle physiology and pathophysiology, including electrophysiology and calcium homeostasis, regulation of the sodium-potassium pump, and optogenetic control of muscle excitability. To this end I use electrophysiological, optical, molecular biology and optogenetic tools.


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Yousang Gwack, PhD

Receptor stimulation triggers Ca2+ entry via Ca2-release-activated Ca2+ (CRAC) channels. CRAC channels are crucial for the immune response. Recently, we identified the pore subunit of the CRAC channels, Orai1. Presently we are trying to identify novel regulators of Orai1 and to understand the physiological role of the CRAC channel using animal models.


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H. Ronald Kaback, MD

My research is focused primarily on the structure and mechanism of energy-transducing membrane transport proteins in particular the lactose permease of E. coli. Residues involved in substrate binding and proton translocation have been identified. A model for the mechanism involving alternating access of the binding site to the membrane has been postulated.


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Thomas J. O'Dell, PhD

We are interested in learning and memory as well as synaptic plasticity in the hippocampus. The laboratory uses a range of methods such as biochemistry, electrophysiology, behavioral analysis and designer mice carrying modified receptors and proteins.


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Diane M. Papazian, PhD

Our research focuses on electrical excitability in the brain. Using zebrafish as a model system, we are investigating the role of excitability in neurodevelopmental and neurodegenerative diseases. We study voltage-gated ion channels, cell and circuit firing patterns, the role of spiking activity in neuronal development and viability, and behavior.


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Peipei Ping, PhD

My current current research focuses on understanding of proteome biology in cardiovascular medicine, with interest on alterations of subproteomes encoding signaling pathways and cellular organelles during cardiac pathogenesis. Specifically: Mitochondrial and Proteasome Biology in the Heart, and Cardiac Organellar Protein atlas Knowledgebase (COPaKB).


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Hui Sun, PhD

Receptors belong to the most successful therapeutic targets in medicine. The long-term goal of the Sun lab is to develop innovative techniques to discover and study membrane receptors that play critical roles in physiology and diseases and to identify small molecules that modulate their activities.


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Julio M. Vergara, PhD

Our laboratory investigates the excitation-contraction (EC) coupling process in mammalian skeletal muscle using a combination of electrophysiological, molecular genetics, and optical tools.


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Ernest M. Wright, DSc





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Secondary Appointments



Gregory Brent, MD

We focus on understanding the mechanism of thyroid hormone and retinoic acid regulation of metabolism and neural development. We also study approaches to augment the expression of the sodium/iodide symporter (NIS) in models of thyroid and breast cancer to permit treatment with systemic radioactive iodide. We utilize cellular and mouse models.


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Linda Demer, MD, PhD

We are uncovering the mechanism of artery wall calcification in atherosclerosis, providing evidence that it involves inflammatory cytokines triggering differentiation of vascular stem cells into osteogenic cells and recapitulating the mechanism of biomineralization in skeletal bone.


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Jared Diamond, PhD*
*primary appointment in Department of Geography





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Eduardo Marban, MD, PhD*
*primary appointment at Cedars-Sinai
As director of the Cedars-Sinai Heart Institute, my research focuses upon the molecular and cellular mechanisms involved in heart disease using multidisciplinary approaches including gene therapy, stem cells and drug treatments for heart attack, heart failure and stroke.


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Emeran Mayer, MD

We study mechanisms of chemo- and mechanotransduction of primary afferent nerves; animal studies on stress modulation of visceral pain; human physiology studies on cerebral, autonomic, neuroendocrine, and perceptual responses to visceral stimulation; and epidemiological studies in populations suffering from chronic gastrointestinal disorders.


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Holly Middlekauff, MD

We are investigating decreased exercise capacity in humans with heart failure. We are focusing on their: 1) abnormal reflex control of the sympathetic nervous system during exercise, and 2) abnormal excitation-contraction coupling in the skeletal muscle.


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Istvan Mody, PhD

Our laboratory is currently studying the pathophysiology of a genocopy model of ADNFLE, investigating hormonally-mediated alterations related to catamenial epilepsy, determining the contribution of specific cell types in organizing and maintaining network oscillations in the hippocampus, and the role of extrasynaptic inhibition in temporal lobe epilepsy.


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Riccardo Olcese, PhD

Ion channels and cellular excitability are central themes of the research programs developed in the Olcese laboratory, which integrates molecular-level biophysical studies with organ-wide phenomena of clinical significance, such as cardiac arrhythmias. The quantitative tools of biophysics are used in a translational context in combination with protein biochemistry, molecular biology, fluorescence spectroscopy, and electrophysiology, to understand the role of ion channels and their mechanisms of electrical and chemical sensing in health and disease.


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George Sachs, MD, DSc*
*primary appointment at Veteran's Affairs Medical Center
We work on the gastric biology of H. pylori using in vivo transcriptome analysis, structure function of the gastric acid pump and the crystal structure of the acid gated urea transport protein known to be essential for infection by H. pylori. We also use high throughput screening for inhibitors of this channel.


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Yin Tintut, PhD

Research Interest: Using in vitro cell culture and mouse models, we investigate the role of inflammation on biomineralization in artery wall, aortic valve and bone.


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Thomas Vondriska, PhD

My lab uses a systems biology approach to study chromatin structure. We examine the role of histones, non-nucleosomal chromatin structural proteins and chromatin remodeling enzymes on complex phenotypes,particularly heart disease. We also have several collaborative projects using proteomics to address various questions in signal transduction and chromatin


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Yibin Wang, PhD

We focus on understanding the intracellular signaling networks involved in stress-response in mammalian cells. Current investigations center on discovering novel components in stress signal transduction networks, establishing functional significance of novel signaling molecules and developing novel therapies for heart failure and metabolic disorders.


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James Weiss, MD

My lab lab research interest include cardiac systems biology, integrating experimental and mathematical biology to relate molecular events to systems level responses causing cardiac arrhythmias and ischemia/reperfusion injury.


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Shimon Weiss, DSc

Our group develops and applies ultrahigh-resolution, ultrahigh-sensitivity fluorescence imaging and spectroscopy tools. The ability to watch one molecule at a time obtains unique information on distribution functions of relevant observables, resolve subpopulations in heterogeneous samples, and record hidden asynchronous time trajectories of observables.


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Emeriti



Francisco J. Bezanilla, PhD  (emeritus)


Dr. Bezanilla retired from UCLA in 2006 and accepted a position in the Department of Pediatrics at the University of Chicago. The main interest in the Bezanilla lab is the search for the dynamics of the molecular correlates of the function in membrane transport proteins. This is being approached with physical techniques such as temperature effects and complex capacitance measurements in the frequency domain combined with mutations of the molecule and assessed by gating currents, macroscopic currents and single molecule recordings. The correlation with structural changes are being monitored with optical techniques using real time fluorescence spectroscopy including lifetimes, changes in intensity and fluorescence resonance energy transfer from probes attached to strategic sites in the molecule of interest while being functional in the membrane.


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Allan J. Brady, PhD  (emeritus)



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Jennifer S. Buchwald(-Baerwald), PhD (emeritus)

Jennifer S. Buchwald-Baerwald
Activities
The eighty acres of oak woodland in Napa County on which I live initially required restoration from erosion and overgrazing, then aggressive management to control and eradicate invasive species; the property is now protected in a conservation easement. Under my maiden name, Jennifer Sullivan, I have published The Levee, a novel derived from graduate student experiences in New Orleans, as well as two collections of short stories, Afterthoughts. and Country Living; a third collection of stories, Grains of Sand, will be published in 2017.


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Christopher Cooper, MD (emeritus)

As director of the UCLA Exercise Physiology Research Laboratory, we study a variety of pulmonary, cardiovascular and musculoskeletal diseases. One of our goals is to is to extned our expertise in exercise assessment to the Univserity and community by offering state-of-the-art performace testing.


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Joy S. Frank, PhD  (emeritus)



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Alan D. Grinnell, PhD  (emeritus)

We study (a) the mechanism whereby stretch of frog motor nerve terminals modulates release; (b) effects of overexpression of sarcospan on muscle physiology; (c) calcium domains in presynaptic terminals in nerve-muscle cultures and correlated transmitter release; and (d) auditory-visual modality transfer in echolocating bats.


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Earl Homsher, PhD  (emeritus)

Regulation of contraction; single motor molecule force displacement measurements; the molecular biology of hypertrophic cardiomyopathy; single myofibril mechanics and kinetics; in vitro motility; single molecule force measurements and transient kinetics of non- muscle myosin IIB and myosin 18.


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Sally J. Krasne, PhD (emeritus)

I apply principles derived from Cognitive Psychology to the field of medical education. My current research is focused on developing online learning and assessment modules that use perceptual and adaptive learning methodologies to enhance pattern recognition in clinical reports such as ECGs, radiographs and histopathology images.


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Michael S. Letinsky, PhD  (emeritus)



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Glenn A. Langer, MD  (emeritus)

After his retirement in 1997, Dr. Langer founded the Partnership Scholars Program in 1996. The program provides financial aid, mentoring and cultural enrichment to needy but bright students from the seventh grade through high school. The goal of the program is for the scholars to graduate from high school and then qualify for admission and scholarships at four-year colleges.
Now in its 20th year, the program has inducted a total of 600 scholars. To date, 393 students have graduated from high school and of these, 90% have been admitted, are attending or have graduated from four year universities. Eight scholars have been awarded the prestigious Gates Millennium Scholarship and the list of universities that PSP alumni attend is impressive, including University of California campuses, Cal State University campuses, USC, Stanford, Occidental, American, George Washington, Northwestern, Dartmouth, Brown and more.


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Kenneth D. Philipson, PhD   (emeritus)

My research focuses on the regulation of Ca2+ transport across heart cell membranes. Primarily, we focus on a specific transporter, the Na+-Ca2+ exchanger, important in controlling cardiac contractility. Investigations include structure-function studies, regulatory studies, and physiological studies using genetically altered mice.


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Bernard Ribalet, PhD (emeritus)

We study ion channel biophysics with a focus on ATP-dependent potassium channels and store-operated Orai channels.


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Kenneth P. Roos, PhD   (emeritus)

As director of the Mouse Physiology Laboratory, my research focuses on the phenotypic assessment of cardiovascular function in normal and genetically altered rodent models of disease using a wide variety of classical integrative and "state of the art" assessment methods coupled with biophysical and engineering approaches.


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Gordon Ross, MD  (emeritus)



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Eduardo H. Rubinstein MD, PhD  (emeritus)



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Oscar U. Scremin MD, PhD  (emeritus)


Dr. Scremin has studied regulation of blood flow in cerebral and peripheral tissues; its modification by acetylcholine, by potassium channels, and by neuropeptides; cerebral metabolic activation in the setting of brain injury utilizing autoradiographic methodologies. Regional cerebral blood flow and glucose utilization, the concentrations of acetylcholine (ACh) and its precursor choline, as well as cholineacetyltransferase activity, and the turnover rate of ACh have been assessed in relation to cognitive function.
Dr. Scremin is presently analyzing:
1. The effects of stimulation of the cerebral cholinergic system on the behavioral and motor deficits associated with brain trauma and
2. The neurophysiological characteristics of a murine model of the human Fragile X Syndrome, a genetic condition causing intellectual disability.


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Enrico Stefani, MD, PhD   (emeritus)

Our lab visualizes static and dynamic changes of macromolecular complexes regulating heart and vascular signaling in a pressure overload model of heart failure. We are developing and building Nanomicroscopes for fluorescence imaging allowing the measurement of structures and their dynamics inside a cell with a 3D spatial resolution.


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John McD. Tormey, MD   (emeritus)

My primary academic interest over past 15 years has been medical education. As Co-chair of UCLA Medical Education Committee, played central role in developing, implementing and improving the current medical curriculum. office: 310-825-6573


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Bernice M. Wenzel, PhD  (emeritus)


Featured in the October 2006 issue of UCLA Magazine, Dr. Wenzel was described as “the giver who keeps on giving”. Few emeriti have done more than Wenzel for the University’s development. In 2001, she and her husband, Wendell Jeffrey, a professor emeritus of psychology, donated money that enabled the Psychology Department to launch an annual public lecture program. They contributed a term chair in behavioral neuroscience that provides unrestricted funds to young researchers as part of UCLA’s efforts to retain faculty. In addition, they set up a trust in the UCLA Library, donated money for scholarships in the music department and augmented a fund that doubled the number of summer chamber music public concerts.


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