Scripps Florida - The Scripps Research Institute Department of Neuroscience

Department of Neuroscience


Gavin Rumbaugh, Ph.D.

Gavin Rumbaugh

Associate Professor with Tenure

Adjunct Assistant Professor - Department of Neurobiology, University of Alabama at Birmingham, Birmingham, AL

Ph.D., Georgetown University School of Medicine, 2000

Department of Neuroscience
130 Scripps Way B311
Jupiter, Florida 33458
Telephone: 561-228-3461
Fax: 561-228-3038


Research Interests

The goal of my lab is to understand how synaptic connections contribute to development and function of neural circuits that underlie memory and cognition. Presently, we are focused on two major research areas:

1) We have identified several genes that are critical regulators of synaptic function. These genes also increase the risk for developing neurodevelopmental disorders of cognition and sociability, such as intellectual disability and autism spectrum disorders. These genes encode proteins that regulate synaptic properties during critical periods of neurodevelopment. Current studies in the lab are aimed at understanding how disruptions in synaptic properties during these developmentally sensitive periods lead to alterations in cognition, memory and sociability. Based on these studies, we hope to develop novel therapeutic strategies to improve brain function in patents with autism spectrum disorders and intellectual disability.

2) Alterations in synaptic connections are implicated in nearly all brain disorders. In particular, synapse loss is a particularly profound problem in brain disorders that attack cognitive function, such as schizophrenia and Alzheimer’s disease. Our lab has initiated a research program aimed at discovering novel mechanisms that trigger increases in neural connectivity as a strategy to combat these illnesses. We believe that increasing connectivity among neurons in networks that mediate critical cognitive processes, such as memory and executive function, will lead to significant improvements in patients with these types of mental disorders. Our approach is to combine the vast chemical resources at TSRI with a novel neuron-based screening platform that was created in the Department of Neuroscience at Scripps Florida. We expect that this combined technology will facilitate the discovery novel chemical probes that trigger increases in synaptic connectivity. These probes will then serve as developmental platforms for future generations of drugs that treat a wide range of brain disorders.

Selected Publications

Rumbaugh G, Adams JP, Kim JH, Huganir RL. (2006) SynGAP regulates synaptic strength and mitogen-activated protein kinases in cultured neurons. PNAS 21;103(12):4344-51.

Guo X, Hamilton PJ, Reish NJ, Sweatt JD, Miller CA, Rumbaugh G. (2009) Reduced expression of the NMDA receptor-interacting protein SynGAP causes behavioral abnormalities that model symptoms of schizophrenia. Neuropsychopharmacology 34:1659-1672.

Kilgore M, Miller CA, Haggarty SJ, Sweatt JD, Rumbaugh G. (2010) Class 1 histone deacetylase inhibitors reverse contextual memory deficits in a mouse model of Alzheimer’s disease. Neuropsychopharmacology 35:870-880.

Rex CS, Gavin CF, Rubio MD, Kramar EA, Chen LY, Jia Y, Huganir RL, Muzyczka N, Gall CM, Miller CA, Lynch G, Rumbaugh G. (2010) Myosin IIb regulates actin dynamics during synaptic plasticity and memory formation. Neuron 67(4):603-617.

Rubio MD, Johnson RC, Miller CA, Huganir RL, Rumbaugh G. (2011) Regulation of synapse structure and function by distinct Myosin II motors. J Neurosci. 31(4):1448-60.

Clement JP, Aceti M, Creson TK, Ozkan ED, Shi Y, Reish NJ, Almonte AG, Miller BH, Wiltgen BJ, Miller CA, Xu X, Rumbaugh G. (2012) Pathogenic SYNGAP1 mutations impair cognitive development by disrupting the maturation of dendritic spine synapses. Cell 151(4):709-23.

Clement JP, Ozkan ED, Miller CA, Rumbaugh G. (2013) SYNGAP1 links the maturation rate of excitatory synapses to the duration of critical period synaptic plasticity. J Neurosci. 33(25):10447-52.

Ozkan ED, Creson TK, Kramar EA, Rojas CS, Shi Y, Lucero R, Xu X, Noebels JL, Miller CA, Lynch GS, Rumbaugh G. (2014) Reduced cognition in Syngap1 mutants is caused by isolated damage within developing forebrain excitatory neurons. Neuron. 82(6):1317-33.

Aceti M, Creson TK, Vaissiere T, Rojas C, Huang W-C, Wang Y-X, Petralia RS, Page DT, Miller CA, Rumbaugh G. (2014) Syngap1 Haploinsufficiency Damages a Postnatal Critical period of Pyramidal Cell Structural Maturation Linked to Cortical Circuit Assembly. Biological Psychiatry. doi:10.1016/j.biopsych.2014.08.001

Awards, Recognition, Appointments, and Honors

1996 NCAA/NAIA Academic All-America (Westminster College)
2002 National Research Scholar Award
2006 Alabama Health Sciences Foundation Scholar
2009 NARSAD Young Investigator Award
2009 Faculty Research Award, American College of Neuropsychopharmacology (ACNP)