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PAUL GASSER, PH.D.

Associate Professor

Department of Biomedical Sciences

Paul Gasser received his Ph.D. in Biology from Arizona State University in 2005. He was then awarded a National Science Foundation International Research Fellowship to conduct his postdoctoral studies in the United Kingdom, at the University of Bristol’s Henry Wellcome Laboratories for Integrative Neuroscience and Endocrinology. In 2007, Dr. Gasser joined the faculty at Marquette University in the Department of Biomedical Sciences. Currently, his research is directed at understanding the mechanisms by which stress hormones act within the brain to alter neuronal function, leading to stress-induced alterations in sensory processing, motivation, learning and memory. The goal of his research program is to understand how the stress response functions to facilitate recovery from stressful situations, and how dysregulation of the stress response may lead to increased risk for neuropsychiatric disorders including post-traumatic stress disorder, drug abuse, and schizophrenia. In addition to his research activities, Dr. Gasser teaches courses in biochemistry and neuroscience to undergraduate and graduate students.

We study the signaling pathways by which monoamines and stress hormones alter the structure and function of neuronal and glial cells, with the hope of learning how these signaling pathways contribute to successful adaptation to stress, and how dysregulation of these pathways contributes to neurodegenerative and neuropsychiatric disorders. 

Corticosteroid hormones are released from the adrenal glands in response to stress. Together with a wide variety of neurotransmitters, corticosteroids play important roles in generating appropriate responses to stress by altering the structure and function of neuronal and glial cells in the brain. While corticosteroids are necessary for normal adaptation to stress, chronic elevation of corticosteroids increases the risk for neuropsychiatric and neurodegenerative disorders. The primary goals of my research are to identify the mechanisms by which corticosteroids interact with neurotransmitters to alter cellular function; and to understand how these mechanisms may contribute to the detrimental effects of chronic stress.  The hope is that this research will increase our understanding of the pathophysiology of stress-related disorders, and that it will lead to the development of novel, effective treatments for these disorders. 

Lab personnel:

  • Grad students: Kelsey Benton, Jenree Maglasang 

  • Undergrads: Sean Hergenrother, Michael Szymanski, Kyle Hudson 

Current projects:

  • Subcellular localization of monoamine transporters and adrenergic receptors in neuronal and glial cells 

  • Regulation of astrocyte gene expression and physiology by nuclear adrenergic receptors 

@gasser_paul