The overall goal my laboratory is to elucidate how substrates of the stress response are involved in medical or psychiatric disorders. Specific areas of interest include the serotonin neurotransmitter system and its projections to forebrain nuclei in the regulation of stress and in the development of mood disorders. Our work focuses on interactions between serotonin, GABA, glutamate, corticotropin-releasing factor-like peptide systems; the impact of long term stress on neuronal function; developmental regulation of the 5-HT limbic system; circuitry linking stress substrates to monoamine systems; stress substrates as targets for psychotherapeutic agents.
If have retired as June 30, 2014 so my laboratory no longer has openings for Postdoctoral fellows, graduate students or research techicians
The overall goal my laboratory is to elucidate how substrates of the stress response are involved in medical or psychiatric disorders. Specific areas of interest include the serotonin neurotransmitter system and its projections to forebrain nuclei in the regulation of stress and in the development of mood disorders. Our work focuses on interactions between serotonin, GABA, glutamate, corticotropin-releasing factor-like peptide systems; the impact of long term stress on neuronal function; developmental regulation of the 5-HT limbic system; circuitry linking stress substrates to monoamine systems; stress substrates as targets for psychotherapeutic agents. We have determined, for example, that the basic cellular characteristics, morphology, cell number and excitatory and inhibitory synaptic input to 5-HT neurons within the different subfields of the dorsal and median raphe are different, and they are selectively modulated in genetically engineered mice that have an anxious phenotype or in animal models that have been subjected to stress protocols. In addition, the circuitry of the CA1 subfield of the hippocampus has been selectively altered. Recent work has focused on the development of the dorsal and median raphe serotonin and GABA neurons. Interestingly the physiology of serotonin neurons demonstrate an immature phenotype in the first week after birth, developing mature characteristics within two weeks. This two week period is a critical period where environmental, genetic, pharmacological, physiological or behavioral perturbations alter the serotonin neurons physiology, leading to a predisposition to develop mood disorders. We are investigating how these changes in the raphe in the first few weeks of life then alter the physiology of their projection areas, such as the medial prefrontal cortex, hippocampus and amygdala. The techniques and approaches in the lab include whole cell electrophysiology, in vitro and in vivo single unit electrophysiology, immunohistochemistry, neuroanatomy, cellular morphology, western blot, behavior, and the use of genetically manipulated mouse models of mood disorders. My laboratory has extensive collaborations with a variety of researchers, including geneticists and molecular biologists at CHOP, University of Pennsylvania as well as other institutions such as Harvard, Case Western, Columbia University.
My laboratory uses primarily whole cell recording techniques in brain slices, but also extracellular single unit recordings in vivo and in vitro, extracellular evoked responses from brain slices in vitro (LTP, stimulus-response curves). In concert we use anatomical techniques, i.e., immunohistochemistry, western blot, mRNA amplification (in collaboration with Jim Eberwine), morphological analysis using Neurolucida, and stereology. Behavioral testing for measurements of anxiety and depression, and behavioral manipulations to induce anxiety or depression. In addition we use genetically engineered mice supplied by our collaborators, i.e., 5-HT1AKO mice and Pet-1 KO mice, both of which have anxiety phenotypes. My laboratory also has collaborations with many faculty members both at UPenn and outside the university.
- Research Associate Professor of Pediatrics at University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine (2002 – 2005)
- Research Associate Professor of Anesthesiology and Critical Care at University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine (2005 – 2014)
- Ph.D., Major: Medical Psychology, Minor: Biochemistry, Oregon Health Sciences University (1981)
- M.S., Psychology, Western Washington State University (1977)
- B.S., Psychology, University of Washington (1973)
- Alexis Gerber, Alison Roland, Jessica Fluharty, Aniko Marshall, Alon Chen, Derek Daniels, Sheryl G. Beck, Tracy, L. Bale. CRF receptor-1 signaling within the dorsal raphe nucleus is sex-specific. Biological Psychiatry. in press, epub ahead of print 2013 Oct 23 epub ahead of print.
- Spaethling Jennifer M, Piel David, Dueck Hannah, Buckley Peter T, Morris Jacqueline F, Fisher Stephen A, Lee Jaehee, Sul Jai-Yoon, Kim Junhyong, Bartfai Tamas, Beck Sheryl G, Eberwine James H. Serotonergic neuron regulation informed by in vivo single-cell transcriptomics.. FASEB journal : official publication of the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology. 2013 Nov.
- Benjamin D. Rood and Sheryl G. Beck. Vasopressin indirectly excites dorsal raphe serotonin neurons through activation of the vasopressin1A receptor. Neuroscience. online 15 December 2013 in press.
- Donaldson Zoe R, Piel David A, Santos Tabia L, Richardson-Jones Jesse, Leonardo E David, Beck Sheryl G, Champagne Frances A, Hen René. Developmental Effects of Serotonin 1A Autoreceptors on Anxiety and Social Behavior.. Neuropsychopharmacology : official publication of the American College of Neuropsychopharmacology. 2013 Aug.
- Challis Collin, Boulden Janette, Veerakumar Avin, Espallergues Julie, Vassoler Fair M, Pierce R Christopher, Beck Sheryl G, Berton Olivier. Raphe GABAergic neurons mediate the acquisition of avoidance after social defeat.. The Journal of neuroscience : the official journal of the Society for Neuroscience. Vol 33(35) . 2013 Aug:13978-88, 13988a.
- Bangasser, D.A., Reyes, B.A., Piel, D., Garachh, V., Zhang, X.Y., Plona, Z.M., Van Bockstaele, E.J., Beck, S.G., Valentino, R.J.. Increased vulnerability of the brain norepinephrine system of females to corticotropin-releasing factor overexpression.. Molecular psychiatry. Vol 18(2) . 2013 February:166-73.
- Crawford, L.K., Rahman, S.F., Beck, S.G.. Social stress alters inhibitory synaptic input to distinct subpopulations of raphe serotonin neurons.. ACS chemical neuroscience. Vol 4(1) . 2013 January:200-9.