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Faculty Detail    
Name RITA COWELL
 
Campus Address SC 729 Zip 0017
Phone 205-975-7466
E-mail rcowell@uab.edu
Other websites
     

Education
Undergraduate  University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign    1997  B.S. Honors Biology 
Graduate  University of Michigan    2002  Ph.D. Neuroscience 
Fellowship  University of Michigan    2006  Postdoctoral Fellowship 


Faculty Appointment(s)
Appointment Type Department Division Rank
Primary  Psychiatry   Psych - Behavioral Neurobiology Assistant Professor
Secondary  Cell, Developmntl, & Integrative Biology  Cell, Developmntl, & Integrative Biology Assistant Professor
Secondary  Neurobiology  Neurobiology Assistant Professor
Secondary  Psychology  Psychology Assistant Professor
Center  Civitan International Research Center  Civitan International Research Center Assistant Professor
Center  Medicine  Comprehensive Diabetes Ctr Assistant Professor
Center  General Clinical Research Center  Comprehensive Neuroscience Center Assistant Professor
Center  Ctr for Glial Bio in Med  Ctr for Glial Bio in Med Assistant Professor
Center  Neurology   Ctr Neurodegeneration & Exp Ther (CNET) Assistant Professor

Graduate Biomedical Sciences Affiliations
Cell, Molecular, & Developmental Biology 
Cellular and Molecular Biology Program 
Genetics and Genomic Sciences 
Medical Scientist Training Program 
Neuroscience 
Pathobiology and Molecular Medicine 

Biographical Sketch 
1997 B.S. in Biology, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign
2002 Ph.D. in Neuroscience, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor
2002-6 Postdoctoral Fellow in Neurology, University of Michigan
2006-present Assistant Professor, Psychiatry, UAB

Society Memberships
Organization Name Position Held Org Link
American Association for the Advancement of Science      
American College of Neuropsychopharmacology     
Society for Neuroscience     

Research/Clinical Interest
Title
Transcriptional regulation of interneuron-specific genes in development and neurodegeneration
Description
Fast-spiking interneurons in the cortex and hippocampus exert strong control over the firing of pyramidal cell populations, forming the cellular basis for coordinated movement and learning and memory. Little is known about the transcriptional pathways that support these functions. The Cowell lab has discovered a transcriptional pathway that controls the expression of genes involved in calcium homeostasis, synchronous neurotransmitter release, and neuron structure specifically in fast-spiking interneurons, and the lab is investigating 1) how this pathway is disrupted in animal models of movement disorders (Huntington Disease) and 2) what components make up the transcriptional complexes that induce these genes. The lab uses a variety of technical strategies to address these questions including targeted overexpression and knockdown approaches in cell culture and transgenic animal models, quantitative RT-PCR, immunohistochemistry, immunofluorescence and confocal microscopy, behavioral testing, electrophysiology, immunoprecipitation, luciferase reporter assays, and Western blotting. The lab also uses adenoviral vectors to reconstitute members of this transcriptional pathway as a strategy to rescue behavioral deficits in animal models. It is our hope that these experiments will ultimately reveal novel pathways for the development of pharmaceutical interventions to improve the lives of patients with neurological disorders.

Selected Publications 
Publication PUBMEDID
Dougherty SE, Hollimon J, West AB, Hablitz JJ, Cowell RM. (2013) Hyperactivity and cortical disinhibition in mice with restriction of mutant huntingtin expression to parvalbumin-positive cells. Neurobiol. Disease In Press.   24121117 
Jiang Z, Rompala G, Zhang S, Cowell RM, Nakazawa K. (2013) Social isolation exacerbates schizophrenia-like phenotypes via oxidative stress in cortical interneurons. Biol. Psychiatry, 73:1024-34.   23348010 
Dougherty SE, Reeves JL, Lesort M, Detloff PJ, Cowell RM. (2013) Purkinje cell dysfunction and loss in a knock-in model of Huntington Disease. Exp. Neurol. 240:96-102.  23195593 
Lucas EK, Dougherty SE, McMeekin LJ, Trinh AT, Reid CS, Cowell RM. (2012) Developmental Alterations in Motor Coordination and Medium Spiny Neuron Markers in Mice Lacking PGC-1α. PLoS One 7(8):e42878.   22916173 
Dougherty SE, Reeves JL, Lucas EK, Gamble KL, Lesort M, Cowell RM. (2012) Disruption of Purkinje cell function prior to huntingtin accumulation and cell loss in an animal model of Huntington Disease. Exp. Neurol. 236(1):171-8.   22579526 
Moehle M, Webber P, Tse T, Sukar N, Standaert D, DeSilva TM, Cowell RM, West AB. (2012) LRRK2 inhibition attenuates microglial inflammatory responses. J. Neurosci. 32:1602-11.  22302802 
Ma D, Li S, Lucas EK, Cowell RM, Lin JD. (2010) Neuronal inactivation of PPARg Coactivator 1a (PGC-1a) protects mice from diet-induced obesity and leads to degenerative lesions. J. Biol. Chem. 285:39087-95.  20947495 
Lucas EK, Markwardt S, Gupta S, Meador-Woodruff JH, Lin JD, Overstreet-Wadiche L, Cowell RM. (2010) Parvalbumin deficiency and GABAergic dysfunction in mice lacking PGC-1a. J. Neurosci. 30:7227-35.   20505089 
Cowell RM, Talati P, Blake KR, Meador-Woodruff JH, Russell JW. (2009) Identification of novel targets for PGC-1a and histone deacetylase inhibitors in neuroblastoma cells. Biochem. Biophys. Res. Commun. 379:578-82.   19118529 
Cowell RM, Blake KR, Inoue T, Russell JW. (2008) Regulation of PGC-1a and PGC-1a-responsive genes with forskolin-induced Schwann cell differentiation. Neurosci. Lett. 439:269-274.  18538475 
Cowell RM, Blake KR, Russell JW. (2007) Localization of the transcriptional coactivator PGC-1a to GABAergic neurons during maturation of the rat brain. J. Comp. Neurol. 502:1-18. Cover image.
 
17335037 
Cowell RM, Xu H, Parent JM, Silverstein FS. (2006) Microglial expression of chemokine receptor CCR5 during rat forebrain development and after perinatal hypoxia-ischemia. J. Neuroimmunol. 173:155-65.  16516309 
Cowell RM, Plane JM, Silverstein FS. (2003) Complement activation contributes to hypoxic-ischemic brain injury in neonatal rats. J. Neurosci. 23:9459-68.  14561876 
Cowell RM, Silverstein FS. (2003) Developmental changes in the expression of chemokine receptor CCR1 in the rat cerebellum. J. Comp. Neurol. 457:7-23.  12541321 

Keywords
Transcription, Huntington Disease, schizophrenia, Tourette Syndrome, movement disorders, GABA, Neuroanatomy, Metabolism, Mitochondria, Neurobiology