Faculty Profiles

Miranda Armour-Chelu, Assistant Professor, Ph.D., London University, United Kingdom, 1993.
Phone: (202) 806-6026, email: marmour-chelu@howard.edu

My research interests include systematics, ecomorphology, taphonomy and paleoecology of faunal assemblages dating from the middle Miocene to Recent. I have undertaken fieldwork in Hungary, Croatia, Jamaica, England and Abu Dhabi excavating fossil equids, bovids, proboscideans amongst other groups. My current research projects include Evolution of Central Paratethys (Hungary and Croatia) Miocene Vertebrate Communities, Systematics, Taphonomy and Paleoecology of African Equids (Laetoli, Olduvai, Tanzania and Sahabi, Libya). Publications

Mohammed Ashraf Aziz, Professor, Ph.D., University of Wisconsin, Madison, 1974. 
Phone: (202) 806-9879, email: maziz@howard.edu

I am conducting research in 3 distinct yet related areas: (i) gross-and developmental anomalies associated with human trisomy (TS 21; 18; 13) syndromes; (ii) gross-and-developmental and evolutionary aspects of human and non-human primate oto-mandibular structures, especially the lateral pterygoid, the temporo-mandibular joint and the mandibular nerve, and (iii) the relative value of human-and cyber-cadaver in the Health Sciences education. Publications

James H. Baker, Associate Professor, Ph.D., University of Maryland, 1978. 
Phone: (202) 806-5557, email: jbaker@howard.edu

Despite the extensive literature describing the neuropathy associated with diabetes, only limited information describes changes in the associated muscle. The broad long-term objective of this research will be to provide details of the consequences of certain traumatic effects to muscles of diabetics and the extent and rate of recovery that the muscles undergo. The results of these experiments will provide clinicians with the information necessary to better choose a course of treatment for their diabetic patients. Publications

Raymond L. Bernor, Professor, Ph.D. University of California at Los Angeles, 1978. 
Phone: (202) 806-4316, email: rbernor@comcast.net

My research interests since 1973 have been on the evolution of Eurasian and African Neogene and Quaternary mammal faunas. I have conducted fieldwork throughout Eurasia and Africa, but the last 15 years fieldwork has been principally in Central Europe, working on Middle and Late Miocene horizons of Germany (Hoewenegg, Germany), Hungary (Rudabanya, Baltavar and many other localities) and Croatia (broad survey of several Early and Late Miocene vertebrate localities; see attached PPT presentation). I have specialized in the systematics, functional anatomy, biogeographic and paleoecological reconstructions of whole mammal faunas, with particular interests in fossil equids, suids and hominoids. I am a member of the Steering Committee and leader of the Large Mammal working group of the Neogene Old World (NOW) Database directed by Professor Mikael Fortelius, Helsinki, Finland (http://www.helsinki.fi/science/now/). I am furthermore a member of the Revealing Human Origins Initiative Co-Directed by Professors F. Clark Howell and Tim White (University of California, Berkeley). Within this project I am involved in coordinating the Perissodactyl Research Group, I am a member of the Suid Research Group, and Co-Coordinator of the Program Informatics group (with John Damuth). My particular research interests within the RHOI are the reconstruction of equid and suid lineages within Africa, their paleoecologic contexts, and their phylogenetic and biogeographic relationships to Eurasian lineages. I am also interested in the biogeographic origin and paleoecologic context of the African ape-human clade. My current research is funded by the National Science Foundation and LSB Leakey Foundation. Past research has also been supported by the National Geographic Society, NATO, the American-Hungarian Fund and the Smithsonian Institution. My current paleontological field projects are at the late Miocene (10.3 m.y.) site of Hoewenegg (Hegau, Germany), and Lucane, Croatia. Publications

Antonei Csoka, Assistant Professor, Ph.D.,

Dr. Csoka received his B.S. in Genetics from the University of Newcastle, U.K., his M.Sc. in Molecular Pathology and Toxicology from the University of Leicester, U.K., and his Ph.D. in Cell and Molecular Biology from the University of Debrecen, Hungary. He has performed postdoctoral research at the University of California, San Francisco, where he cloned the human hyaluronidase genes, which are involved in fertilization, embryonic development, and cancer. As a postdoctoral research associate at Brown University, Dr. Csoka was instrumental in the identification of the gene that causes Hutchinson-Gilford Progeria Syndrome (progeria), a disease with many features of “accelerated aging.” It is hoped that the identification of the gene for progeria will provide insights into the mechanisms of normal aging.  As an assistant Professor in the Department of Anatomy at Howard University, Dr. Csoka is developing animal models of progeria, studying the role of nuclear lamina dysfunction in human aging, and investigating the potential of induced pluripotent stem cells, cellular reprogramming and epigenetic rejuvenation for the treatment of age-related diseases.

Rui Diogo, Assistant Professor, Ph.D., University of Liege, Belgium, 2003 & George Washington University, 2011.

Phone: (202) 651-0439, email: rui.diogo@howard.edu

I am an Advisory Board Member of the Journal "Progress in Fish Research" (Gwalior, India), a Consortium Member of the "Timetree" project (book + website: www.timetree.org), an Editorial Board Member of the "Open Anatomy Journal", and a Member of the American Association of Anatomists.

My research is mainly focused on:

  • Primate Comparative Anatomy
  • Primate Phylogeny and Evolution
  • Chordate Comparative Anatomy
  • Chordate Phylogeny and Evolution
  • Chordate Developmental Biology
  • Chordate Functional Morphology
  • Philosophy, History and Biases of Science

For more details about my research interests, my CV, my lab, and my publications, please see: ruidiogolab.comPublications

Daryl P. Domning, Professor, Ph.D, University of California, Berkeley, 1975.
Phone: (202) 806-6026, email: ddomning@howard.edu

Daryl P. Domning

My research interests include the morphology, systematics, phylogenetic history, and paleoecology of fossil and living marine mammals, particularly of the orders Sirenia and Desmostylia. These groups comprise the only herbivorous marine mammals; they have a worldwide fossil record extending throughout the last 50 million years. Since 1994 I have led an international field project, funded by the National Geographic Society, which has been excavating the world's oldest known skeletons of fossil sirenians at a site in western Jamaica. These primitive, amphibious seacows (see photo) were still four-legged animals, and are dramatic evolutionary "missing links" between fully terrestrial mammals and the modern, fully aquatic manatees and dugongs. Investigations completed to date include: myology and functional anatomy of dugongs and manatees; interspecific and intraspecific morphological variation in manatees; evolutionary history of sirenians and desmostylians in the northern and eastern Pacific Ocean; a new quadrupedal, amphibious seacow from the Eocene of Jamaica; Eocene sirenians of the southeastern U.S.A.; Early Miocene sirenians of Austria; Mio-Pliocene sirenians of Italy, Libya, and France; and functional anatomy of a walrus-like fossil cetacean from Peru. Recent paleontological field projects have been located in Austria, France, and Jamaica. Ongoing research includes: systematics and evolution of fossil sirenians of the West Atlantic and Caribbean; cladistic analysis of the Sirenia; and bibliography of the Sirenia and Desmostylia. Teaching is in the area of gross and comparative anatomy and evolutionary biology. Public service: I have long been active in Florida manatee conservation efforts, and am presently secretary of the Board of Directors of the Save the Manatee Club and scientific advisor to Sirenian International, Inc. I founded the twice-yearly newsletter Sirenews for the international sirenian research and conservation community, and served as its editor from 1984 to 2005. I am also active in science-religion dialogues relating to evolution and creationism. Publications

Edwin Gilland, Associate Professor, Ph.D. 
Phone: (774) 521-9229, email: egilland@howard.edu Publications

Marjorie Gondre-Lewis, Professor, Ph.D., Albert Einstein College of Medicine; PostDoc, National Institute of Child Health and Human Development
Phone: (202) 806-5274, email: mgondre-lewis@howard.edu

Dr. Gondré-Lewis is Director of the Developmental Neuropsychopharmacology Laboratory at the Howard University College of Medicine.  Her research team has a dual focus to investigate environmental factors that influence brain development and maturation, and also to investigate mechanisms of reward associated with escalation of drug use, especially excessive alcohol consumption and opioid addiction.  These research foci converge in that many experiences of early life adversity, which disrupt neural circuits in distinct anatomical sites, also lead to neuropsychiatric disorders with altered cognition, mood/affect, and reward/addiction.  The laboratory tests various pharmacological, genetic, and biochemical interventions to restore control behaviors and reduce the manifestation of those associated with depression, anhedonia, anxiety, addiction, impulsivity, fear learning.  Human correlates are Attention Deficit and Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), Major Depressive Disorder (MDD), Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD), Schizophrenia, Substance Use Disorders (SUD),

Dr. Gondré-Lewis has served as a reviewer and is on the editorial board for many journals, on several grant review panels for the National Institutes of Health (NIH), and shares her work internationally.  She is an author of numerous research articles, reflective of her broad background in developmental brain disorders and mechanisms of drugs of abuse. She has investigated disorders like Smith-Lemli-Opitz syndrome, Niemann-Pick disease, and other genetic brain diseases.  She now focuses on both genetic and epigenetic (environmental experience) modulators of brain development and maturation, and how drugs impact this development.  The laboratory has received funding from NIAAA, NIMHD, NINDS, NIGMS, NSF, as well as internal and corporate sources.

Main Research Topics are aimed at: 

  1. Uncovering immediate and long-term behavioral, neuroanatomical and molecular disruptions caused by the experience of early life adversity and developmental drug exposure (nicotine) during prenatal life, infancy and adolescence.
  2. Investigating molecular bases of alcohol addiction and co-morbid neuropsychiatric disease as mediated by neuroinflammation, CRF, GABA, and other molecular circuits.
  3. Testing small molecules and natural products that target the reward pathway to improve cognition and affect in rodent models of stress and addiction.   
  4. Targeting the genetic bases for opioid use disorder to develop effective treatments to restore dopamine homeostasis in humans—consideration for psychosocial determinants of brain health.


Selected Publications:  For fuller list, search Pubmed for “Gondre-Lewis”

  1. Balan I, Warnock KT, Puche A, Gondré-Lewis MC, Aurelian L. Innately activated TLR4 signal in the nucleus accumbens is sustained by CRF amplification loop and regulates impulsivity.  Brain Behav Immun. 2017 Nov 13. pii: S0889-1591(17)30509-3.
  2. Gondré-Lewis MC, Warnock KT, Wang H, June HL Jr, Bell KA, Rabe H, Tiruveedhula VV, Cook J, Lüddens H, Aurelian L, June HL Sr. Early life stress is a risk factor for excessive alcohol drinking and impulsivity in adults and is mediated via a CRF/GABA(A) mechanism.  Stress (Amsterdam, Netherlands). 2016; 19(2):235-47. NIHMSID: NIHMS803288
  3. Blum K, Badgaiyan RD, Dunston GM, Baron D, Modestino EJ, McLaughlin T, Steinberg B, Gold MS, Gondré-Lewis MC. The DRD2 Taq1A A1 Allele May Magnify the Risk of Alzheimer's in Aging African-Americans.  Mol Neurobiol. 2017 Sep 30. doi: 10.1007/s12035-017-0758-1.
  4. Tao R, Davis KN, Li C, Shin JH, Gao Y, Jaffe AE, Gondré-Lewis MC, Weinberger DR, Kleinman JE, Hyde TM. GAD1 alternative transcripts and DNA methylation in human prefrontal cortex and hippocampus in brain development, schizophrenia. Mol Psychiatry. 2017 May 9. doi: 10.1038/mp.2017.105.
  5. Arvaniti M, Jensen MM, Soni N, Wang H, Klein AB, Thiriet N, Pinborg LH, Muldoon PP, Wienecke J, Imad Damaj M, Kohlmeier KA, Gondré-Lewis MC, Mikkelsen JD, Thomsen MS. Functional interaction between Lypd6 and nicotinic acetylcholine receptors.  Journal of neurochemistry. 2016; 138(6):806-20. NIHMSID: NIHMS798679
  6. Wang H, Gondré-Lewis MC. Prenatal nicotine and maternal deprivation stress de-regulate the development of CA1, CA3, and dentate gyrus neurons in hippocampus of infant rats.  PLoS One. 2013 Jun 13;8(6):e65517. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0065517. Print 2013.

* For earlier work, search Pubmed for “Gondre”


Thomas Heinbockel, Associate Professor, Ph.D., 
University of Arizona, 1997.
Phone: (202) 806-9873, email: theinbockel@howard.edu

Picture of Thomas Heinbockel

Research in my lab is aimed at elucidating organizational principles of neural systems in the brain using electrophysiological and anatomical methods. In particular, we are interested in the functional organization of the limbic and olfactory system.

In the limbic system our research activities have been centered on a subcortical structure of the vertebrate brain, the amygdala, a key brain site for emotion, fear, learning and memory. The amygdala is essential for developing an inner view of the outside sensory world and is thought to be one of the key structures for the interpretation of sensory information associated with motivation and emotion. The main goal of this line of work is to reveal functions of the amygdala at the cellular and network level and to integrate this knowledge into the functioning of higher order brain systems. Research on the amygdala includes topics such as synaptic transmission, neuromodulation, synaptic plasticity as well mechanisms for generating rhythmic and epileptiform activity.


Neuroscience Publication picture
Olfaction is a fundamental sensory modality and provides us with some of our emotionally most stimulating and lasting memories, yet many of the mysteries of this modality, from the molecular to the systems level, still remain unknown. In addition, the olfactory pathway is unique in sending sensory information directly to the cortex and areas involved in emotion and memory (amygdala, limbic areas), and bypassing the thalamus as an intermediary step. In a rodent olfactory bulb slice preparation my lab uses patch clamp electrophysiology and imaging techniques to characterize biophysical, cellular and synaptic properties of neurons. The olfactory bulb is the first central relay station for olfactory information conveyed from the nasal epithelium by olfactory receptor neurons. The olfactory bulb contains output neurons (mitral and tufted cells) that transmit olfactory information to higher order olfactory structures and to other brain systems. The relay from the nose to mitral and tufted cells is strongly regulated by local intrabulbar circuitry, including inhibitory granule cells, and by centrifugal inputs to the olfactory bulb from other parts of the brain. Questions that we address include: How do intrinsic and synaptic neuronal properties relate to information coding and neural network function of this system? What is the functional role of different neurotransmitter receptors (ionotropic and metabotropic) on these cell types? How do the various neuromodulator systems within the olfactory bulb and from centrifugal fibers shape the response to olfactory nerve input, as well as synaptic output to higher brain centers? My research on both the olfactory and limbic system has been directed at understanding mechanisms of information processing that form the basis of persistent functional changes in these systems and their relation to neurological and neuropsychiatric disorders. Publications


S. Taseer Hussain, Professor, Ph.D., State University of Utrecht, 1969. 
Phone: (202) 806-6694, email: shussain@howard.edu

Dr. Hussain’s research interests are in the areas of evolutionary biology, environment, biodiversity, and climate change and human health. He has worked with the taxonomy, evolutionary and functional anatomy of fossil equids, rodents, primates and cetaceans. More recently, Dr. Hussain and his colleagues have been investigating morphological aspects of cetacean origins and evolution. The new fossils that they have found clearly show that modern cetaceans did not suddenly appear full-blown, without intermediate forms. They originated from four –legged land mammals. The fossil material that they have found provides evidence for evolution in locomotion, hearing and marine water ingestion in whales.

Dr. Hussain and his colleagues are also studying the health effects of climate change on human populations. They have found that with climate change, not only is the geographical distribution of disease altered, but risk factors shift as determinants of disease within human populations. They have further established that the incidence of both infectious and chronic diseases increases with severity in climate conditions. Publications

Irina A. Koretsky, Associate Professor, PhD., Howard University, 1999. 
Phone: (202) 986-7911, email: ikoret123@aol.com

Dr. Irina A. Koretsky is an internationally-known paleobiologist and authority on the fossil record of the mammalian Family Phocidae (true seals). In a research career extending back more than twenty-five years, including extensive field and museum studies in the former Soviet Union, eastern and western Europe, and most recently eastern North America, she has established herself as the world’s leading expert on the fossil seals of the Paratethyan (Eurasia), Mediterranean, and North Atlantic regions. Her peer-reviewed publications on this topic include two major monographs published or in press.

Dr. Koretsky’s research involves anatomy, physiology, and functional morphology, as well as systematic analysis of the true seals (Mammalia; Carnivora; Phocidae). She is pursuing two lines of research: (1) functional morphology, with emphasis on evolutionary and geographic origin of the seals; (2) the question of monophyletic versus diphyletic origin of pinnipeds.

Most of her research effort is devoted to biomechanical and ecological interpretations of morphological characters of fossil seals. Morphological interpretation can provide a foundation for paleoecological reconstructions. Conversely, information on the environment in which early seals evolved is very important for pinniped systematics and classification.

In addition to her current projects describing new fossil seals from the U.S. and Europe, Dr. Koretsky (with Dr. L. G. Barnes of Los Angeles) is working on a new phylogenetic analysis addressing the issue of pinniped diphyly. This is the single most controversial issue in the entire realm of mammalian interordinal relationships.

For many years it was generally accepted that the pinnipeds are not a natural taxonomic group, but rather two groups evolved independently from two different groups of aquatic carnivores. More recently, computer-assisted cladistic analyses led some investigators to conclude that the pinnipeds have a single land carnivore ancestor. These studies have sparked much new research, and the issue of pinniped monophyly or diphyly is currently much debated. Dr. Koretsky’s work, which supports the more traditional concept of pinniped diphyly, is likely to overturn the currently popular idea that pinnipeds are monophyletic. Publications

Donald Orlic, Professor, Ph.D., 
Phone: (202) 322-9922, email: donald.orlic@howard.edu

Donald Rigamonti, Professor, Ph.D. 
Phone: (202) 865-0001, email: drigamonti@howard.edu

Marjorie D. Shaw, Assistant Professor, Ph.D.
Phone: (202) 806-9607, email: mdshaw@howard.edu

Blair H. Turner, Professor, Ph.D., University of Florida, 1969. 
Phone: (202) 806-9876, email: blairturner1@mac.com

One of the most ancient areas of the brain phylogenetically is the amygdala, a structure buried deep in the temporal lobe. The amount of information concerning its function suggests that it is responsible for instinctual behaviors such as fear, aggression, and sex. Our laboratory has employed a number of neuroanatomical staining methods in an experimental design that has shown that the highest, most recently evolved part of the brain, the cerebral cortex, establishes anatomical connections with the amygdala and therefore probably assumes functional control over it. Publications

James Steven Wilson, Associate Professor, Ph.D., Medical College of Virginia, 1978.
Phone: (202) 806-6559, email: jwilson@howard.edu

My laboratory is studying the causes and possible cures of Parkinson's disease, a major neurological disorder affecting primarily the elderly. Recently, a major advancement was made in this field with the discovery of 1-methyl-4-phenyl-1,2,3,6-tetrahydropyridine (MPTP), which produces a Parkinsonian-like syndrome when injected into certain laboratory animals. Using this selective neurotoxin, we are studying at the light and electronmicroscopic levels the spatio-temporal process of neural degeneration. These studies have provided important insights into the organization of the nigrostriatal system (the area damaged in idiopathic and MPTP-induced Parkinson's disease) and the mechanism of MPTP's selective toxicity. We are also studying the physiological effects of MPTP with the hopes of understanding the function of the nigrostriatal system and its neurotransmitter, dopamine, in normal and pathological brains.