• Name: Mark C. Austin, Ph.D.
  • Institution: Idaho State University
  • Department: Biological Sciences
  • Phone: 208-282-3534
  • Email: austinm@isu.edu

Summary: The primary focus of my research program over the past twenty years has been to investigate the molecular neurochemistry of the serotonin system in major depressive disorder (MDD), but it has become evident that major depression is a very heterogeneous disorder that is associated with a high rate of other serious medical comorbidities such as cardiovascular disease, stroke, dementia, diabetes, obesity and repetitive concussion syndrome. It has been suggested that MDD may be associated with “accelerated aging.” In addition, significant neuropathology occurs in specific brain regions of subjects diagnosed with major depression that is similar to other neurodegenerative disorders. Therefore, rather than focusing on a single neurotransmitter system, I have begun to develop a broader research program that has expanded and evolved into investigating epigenetic, developmental, cytoskeletal and signal transduction mechanisms underlying depression, chronic stress, obesity and repetitive traumatic brain injury. Our research projects involve a multi-disciplinary approach that encompasses neuroanatomy, neurochemistry, neuropharmacology, biochemistry and molecular biology disciplines and we utilize a variety biochemical and molecular biological techniques as well as in vitro cell culture and in vivo small rodent models.

Minimum Classes: biology, cell and molecular biology, biochemistry, genetics, physiology, anatomy

Projects: Potential projects that summer fellows may participate in include; studies utilizing neuronal cell culture techniques to investigate the effects of specific drugs or other agents related to “stress” effects on various proteins and genes regulating neuronal function. Students would learn cell culture techniques, neuropharmacological manipulations, immunblotting to measure protein expression and real-time PCR to measure mRNA expression of genes.

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