Nancy L. Wayne, PhD

Position Title:
Professor, hysiology
Vice Chair for Instruction, Department of Physiology
Office: 52-039 CHS
Phone: 310-794-1159
Visit my Lab




I am a tenured Professor of Physiology at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA. I joined the UCLA faculty in 1992 and the principal investigator of research in the area of reproductive neuroendocrinology. My laboratory investigates the biology of brain cells that control reproductive development and fertility. Our latest work investigates the impact of endocrine disrupting chemicals on development of the reproductive system. I have published over 50 peer-reviewed articles in internationally recognized journals in the fields of biomedical/life sciences, gender bias, and laboratory safety.


I am also a dedicated educator, and was co-chair of the first year medical school curriculum for 10 years. I am Vice Chair of Instruction for the Department of Physiology, and I received the School of Medicine’s 2010 Excellence in Education Award.

Laboratory Safety Oversight

As Associate Vice Chancellor for Research, my portfolio is focused primarily on laboratory safety. I am responsible for communications with faculty with the objective of enhancing the effectiveness of laboratory safety programs and policies. I am also Chair of the Advisory Board of the University of California Center for Laboratory Safety ( The Center’s mission is to sponsor and support research in laboratory safety, develop and translate research into applied best practices, and facilitate implementation and optimization of laboratory safety practices.


I helped develop the UCLA Diversity Strategic Plan and was a member of the Chancellor’s Advisory Group on Diversity. I am founder and chair of the UCLA Women in Science Networking Group and founder of Women Advancing Together (, leading workshops on issues that are of interest to women across multiple disciplines.

Research Interests:

The focus of my research is to understand cell physiological mechanisms controlling reproduction. In vertebrates, there are neurons in the central nervous system that synthesize and secrete the decapeptide hormone called gonadotropin releasing hormone (GnRH) -- these are the command cells that control all aspects of reproduction. Because GnRH neurons are few in number and scattered in the CNS, their cell physiology has been difficult or unfeasible to study. We have overcome this obstacle by using transgenic fish in which GnRH neurons are genetically tagged with fluorescent proteins for identification in living intact brain and in embryos. This allows us to target single, identified neurons within their neural network for neurophysiological analysis under different reproductive and developmental conditions. We use a combination of electrophysiology and optical imaging to analyze neurophysiological functions under different reproductive and developmental conditions. In collaboration with molecular geneticists, we use transgenic and gene knock-down strategies to manipulate gene expression.

The Wayne lab developed a novel line of transgenic zebrafish in which the gonadotropin releasing hormone (GnRH) promoter and signal sequence drives expression of a bright variant of GFP (Emerald GFP or EMD). The movies (time lapse and 3-D reconstruction) demonstrate development during zebrafish embryogenesis of neurons that are genetically tagged with the GnRH3:EMD construct. Populations of GnRH3:EMD expressing neurons during the first 3 days post-fertilization are located in the terminal nerve, hypothalamus, preoptic area, trigeminal ganglion, spinal cord, and retina. Recent work investigates the impact of endocrine disrupting chemicals that are ubiquitous in our environment on biological functions of the developing reproductive system — see video clip that will be part of a larger documentary:


Movie page for:

Development of multiple populations of GnRH3 neurons in zebrafish embryos


2010, Excellence in Education Award, David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA.
2007, Distinguished Lectureship in Marine Neuroscience, University of Miami, FL.

Representative Publications:

Wayne NL, Kuwahara K.  Beta-endorphin alters electrical activity of gonadotropin releasing hormone neurons located in the terminal nerve of the teleost medaka (Oryzias latipes). Gen. Comp. Endocrinol. 150: 41-47, 2007.

Ramakrishnan S, Wayne NL.  Impact of bisphenol-A on early embryonic development and reproductive maturation in medaka (Oryzias latipes). Reprod. Toxicol. 25: 177-183, 2008.

Ramakrishnan S, Wayne NL. Social cues from conspecifics alter electrical activity of gonadotropin releasing hormone neurons in the terminal nerve via visual signals. Am J Physiol Regul Integr Comp Physiol. 297:135-141, 2009.

Tsai P-S, Sun B, Rochester JR, Wayne NL. Gonadotropin-releasing hormone-like molecule is not an acute reproductive activator in the gastropod, Aplysia californica. Gen Comp Endocrinol 166: 280-288, 2010.

Wayne NL, Vermillion M, Uijtdehaage S. Gender differences in leadership amongst first-year medical students in the small group setting. Acad Med 85: 1276-1281, 2010.

Ramakrishnan S, Lee W, Navarre S, Kozlowski DJ, Wayne NL. Acquisition of spontaneous electrical activity during embryonic development of gonadotropin-releasing hormone-3 neurons located in the terminal nerve of transgenic zebrafish (Danio rerio).  Gen Comp Endocrinol 168: 401-407, 2010.

Zhao Y, Wayne NL. Effects of Kisspeptin1 on Electrical Activity of an Extrahypothalamic Population of Gonadotropin-Releasing Hormone Neurons in Medaka (Oryzias latipes). PLoS ONE 7(5): e37909. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0037909, 2012.

Zhao Y, Wayne NL. Recording electrical activity from identified neurons in the intact brain of transgenic fish. J Vis Exp (74), e50312, doi:10.3791/50312, 2013.

Zhao Y, Lin MC, Farajzadeh M, Wayne NL. Early development of the gonadotropin-releasing hormone neuronal network in transgenic zebrafish. Front. Endocrinol. 4:107, doi:10.3389/fendo.2013.00107,2013. Invited original research article for an issue dedicated to GnRH Biology.

Zhao Y, Lin MC, Mock A, Yang M, Wayne NL. Kisspeptins modulate the biology of multiple populations of gonadotropin-releasing hormone neurons during embryogenesis and adulthood in zebrafish (Danio rerio). PLoS ONE 9(8): e104330. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0104330, 2014.

Gibson JH, Schroeder I, Wayne NL. A research university’s rapid response to a fatal chemistry accident: safety changes and outcomes. J Chem Health Safety 21: 18-26, 2014.

Schroeder I, Huang DY, Ellis O, Gibson JH, Wayne NL. Laboratory safety attitudes and practices: A comparison of academic, government, and industry researchers. J. Chem. Health Safety 23:12-23, 2016.

Qiu W, Zhao Y, Yang M, Farajzadeh M, Pan C, Wayne NL. Actions of Bisphenol A and Bisphenol S on the reproductive neuroendocrine system during early development in zebrafish. Endocrinology 157(2):636–647, 2016. See related News & Views article:

Zhao Y, Singh C, Prober D, Wayne NL. Morphological and physiological interactions between GnRH3 and hypocretin/orexin neuronal systems in zebrafish (Danio rerio). Endocrinology, in press, 2016.