Dr. Fadi A. Issa

Fadi Issa received his PhD in biology in 2008 from Georgia State University and currently is an assistant professor of biology at East Carolina University.  Dr. Issa conducted his postdoctoral training at the Brain Research Institute at UCLA David Geffen School of Medicine. He was a recipient of the 2010 and 2011 Brain Research Award and was a research fellow of the National Ataxia Foundation.

The overall scientific interests of Dr. Issa encompass two branches of the field of neuroscience: Behavioral Neuroscience and Neurobiology of Disease. His current research focuses on improving our understanding of the mechanisms that cause Spinocerebellar Ataxia type 13 (SCA-13). SCA-13, is a genetic disease that progressively leads to motor incoordination as a result of the neurodegeneration of the cerebellum. In his research Dr. Issa is using zebrafish to investigate the effects of SCA-13 mutations on the development and electrical activity of the cerebellar and spinal cord neurons and consequently how these cellular changes affect zebrafish behavior.

Dr. Issa began his studies working on the freshwater crayfish. This invertebrate animal has a simpler nervous system compared to higher order organisms, while simultaneously  possessing complex behavioral repertoire  that make crayfish attractive to probe the neural bases of specific behavior. Crayfish eat, mate, fight and form social hierarchies. For his doctoral studies Dr. Issa focused on studying how social hierarchies influence nervous system function and how animals adapt their behavior and neurophysiology according to their social standing. His work illustrated how the social environment has a drastic influence on the behavior of animals, and how that influence can reversibly modifies the neural networks underlying that behavior.

"We can begin to apply this knowledge to tease out how our social interactions on daily bases affect our brain and how we behave. I was fortunate to have my work receive some press attention, and it was featured by a number of news outlets."


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Last updated: 5/1/17