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Department of Neuroscience

Gavin Rumbaugh, PhD

Department of Neuroscience
Florida Campus
Laboratory Website
(561) 228-3461

Scripps Research Joint Appointments

Department of Molecular Medicine
Faculty, Graduate Program

Other Joint Appointments

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

Research Focus

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.

Awards & Professional Activities

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)

Selected References

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

Shepherd JS*, Rumbaugh G.*, Chowdhury A, Huganir RL, Worley P. (2006) Arc regulates homeostatic synaptic scaling of AMPA receptors in cultured neurons. Neuron. 52(3):475-484. 

Heine M, Groc L, Frischknecht R, Béïque JC, Lounis B, Rumbaugh G., Huganir RL, Cognet L, Choquet D (2008) Surface Mobility of Postsynaptic AMPARs Tunes Synaptic Transmission. Science. 320 (1): 201 – 205. (Faculty of 1000 selection)

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.

Funk AJ, Rumbaugh G., Harotunian V, McCullumsmith RE, Meador-Woodruff JH (2009) Decreased expression of NMDA receptor-associated proteins in frontal cortex of elderly patients with schizophrenia. Neuroreport. Jul 15;20(11):1019-22.

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.

Miller CA, Gavin CF, White JA, Parrish RR, Honasoge A, Yancey CR, Rivera IM, Rubio MD, Rumbaugh G., Sweatt JD ( 2010) Cortical DNA methylation maintains remote memory. Nat Neurosci. 13(6):664-6. (Faculty of 1000 selection)

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.

Gavin CF, Rubio MD, Young E, Miller C, Rumbaugh G. (2012) Myosin II motor activity in the lateral amygdala is required for fear memory consolidation. Learn Mem. Dec 14;19(1):9-14. Print 2012 Jan

Kramár EA, Babayan AH, Gavin CF, Cox CD, Jafari M, Gall CM, Rumbaugh G*, Lynch G* (2012) Synaptic Evidence for the Efficacy of Spaced Learning. Proc Natl Acad Sci. 109(13):5121-6.  *co-corresponding author

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 


Arc/Arg3.1 Mediates Homeostatic Synaptic Scaling of AMPA Receptors

Inhibitors of class 1 histone deacetylases reverse contextual memory deficits in a mouse model of Alzheimer's disease.