Neema Yazdani

Neema Yazdani (Biomolecular Pharmacology Graduate Student)

Biomolecular Pharmacology Graduate Student

I am currently a fifth year doctoral candidate in department of Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics at Boston University School of Medicine. Before BU, I attended the University of California, San Diego (UCSD), where I obtained a B.S. in Physiology and Neuroscience (2011) and an M.S. in Neuroscience (2012). During my undergraduate years, I participated the leech genome project, where I localized the expression of newly discovered gap junction Innexin genes to specific neurons in the embryonic leech central nervous system. For my Master’s research, I studied the functional relationship between invertebrate Innexins, and vertebrate Connexins and Pannexins through site-directed mutagenesis of pan-neuronally expressed Innexin 1 and glia-expressed Innexin 2, eventually leading to the discovery of dominant negative gap junction mutants. Currently, I am pursuing my doctoral studies under the mentorship of Dr. Camron Bryant in the Laboratory of Addiction Genetics at Boston University School of Medicine. Upon joining the lab, a major research aim of mine was to determine which of two candidate genes, Rufy1 and Hnrnph1, is involved in decreased methamphetamine sensitivity of C57BL/6JxDBA/2J congenic mice. Using customized transcription activator-like effector nucleases (TALENs), we knocked-out each respective gene in the C57BL/6J strain, and determined Hnrnph1 to be our lead candidate. Extending our findings beyond drug sensitivity into addiction-relevant behaviors, we are conducting a variety of behavioral assessments with Hnrnph1 TALENs mice, including conditioned place preference, intravenous self-administration, and oral self-administration. Through interdisciplinary approaches including transcriptomic, immunohistochemical and neurochemical analyses, we will also investigate the neurobiological mechanisms underlying complex behavior.