Diane O’Dowd, Ph.D.

Epilepsy, Sodium channels, Excitability, Model Systems

My research lab at UCI has studied the activity of living neurons from the brains of both flies and mice. Using molecular genetic manipulations and whole cell electrophysiology we are exploring the role of specific genes in regulating functional plasticity of developing and mature neural circuits. Recently my lab has focused on exploring the cellular mechanisms underlying generation of seizures caused by mutations in the sodium channel gene, SCN1A. We have generated knock-in flies, mice, and induced human pluripotent stem cells (hiPSCs) to compare sodium channel activity and firing properties in neurons with/without epilepsy causing mutations. Cellular changes conserved in the different models are those most likely to reflect mechanism contributing to the human disease. Equally interesting are distinct mechanism between models that provide insight into new pathways leading to similar phenotypes. These data inform our use of the knock-in models to screen for patient specific therapies.

Teaching and science education research are also important facets of my career. As an HHMI Professor I have worked on transforming the relationship between teaching and research at UCI, a setting where research tends to dominate, and teaching is often viewed a burdensome chore. In the classroom we developed strategies to help create dynamic learning environments in large biology classes that are compatible with the faculty building or maintaining successful research programs. We also developed training programs for employing evidence-based teaching practices for future faculty in teaching discussion sections/classes. In my lab I work with graduate students and postdoctoral fellows in mentoring undergraduate research. Graduate student and postdocs in the lab are paired with an undergraduate team and receive guidance in mentoring the students in developing scientific thinking in addition to technical skills while they help conduct the experiments in the lab. The mentors oversee the undergraduate team in writing an abstract and presenting a poster or talk about their work at one or more scientific meetings/year. In my role as the Vice Provost for Academic Personnel I have been working to increase the quality of the evidence used to evaluate teaching and value placed on teaching in the academic review process at R1 universities.

Recent Publications

  • Das, A, Zhu, B., Xie, Y#., Zeng, L.#, Pham, A., Neumann, J., Safrina, O., Benavides, D., MacGregor, G., Schutte, S.S., Hunt, R.*, and O’Dowd, D.K.* (2021) Interneuron dysfunction in a new mouse model of SCN1A GEFS+. eNeuro, in press. # authors contributed equally, *co-corresponding authors.
  • Xie, Y., Ng, N.N., Safrina, O.S., Ramos, C.M., Ess, K.C., Schwarz, P.H., Smith, M.A., and O’Dowd, D.K. (2020) Comparisons of dual isogenic human iPSC pairs identify functional alterations directly cause by an epilepsy associate SCN1A mutation. Neurobiology of Disease 134:104627. PMID:31786370.
  • Williams, A.E. and O’Dowd, D.K. (2020) Seven practical strategies to add active learning to a science lecture. Neuroscience Letters 743: 125317. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0304394020305875?via%3Dihub
  • Murray, A.W., O’Dowd, D.K., and Impey, C.D. (2019) When it comes to teaching and tenure it is time to walk the walk. eLife 8: e50524. DOI: https://doi.org/10.7554/elife.50542. PMID 31401984
  • Anbar, A., Elgin, S., Jez, J., O’Dowd, D., Shapiro, B., Zaman, M. (2018) Improving Societies’ harassment policies. Science 361: 6406. Letter. PMID: 30190397.
  • Roemmich, A.J., Schutte, S.S., and O’Dowd, D.K. (2018) Ex vivo whole cell recordings in adult Drosophila brain. Bio-protocol 8 (14): e2467. DOI: 10.21769/BioProtoc.2467. PMID:30148187
  • Schutte, R.J., Y. Xie, N.N.Ng, P. Figueroa, A.T. Pham, and D.K. O’Dowd(2018) Astrocyte-enriched feeder layers from cryopreserved cells support differentiation of spontaneously active networks of human iPSC-derived neurons.J. Neurosci. Methods294: 91-101 PMID:28746822.
  • Dennin, M, Z.D. Schultz, A. Feig, N. Finkelstein, A.F. Greenhoot, M. Hildreth, A.K. Leibovich, J.D. Martin, M.B. Moldwin, D.K. O’Dowd, L.A. Posey, T.L. Smith, and E.R. Miller (2017) Aligning practice to policies: Changing the culture to recognize and reward teaching at research universities. CBE-Life Sciences Education16 (4): es5, 1-8.
  • Xie, Y., R. J. Schutte, N.N. Ng, K.C. Ess, P.H. Schwartz and D.K. O’Dowd(2017). Reproducible and efficient generation of functionally active neurons from human hIPSCs for preclinical disease modeling. Stem Cell Research26: 84-94.
  • Guven-Ozkan, T., G.U. Busto, S.S. Schutte, I. Cervantes-Sandoval, D.K.O’Dowd, and R.L. Davis (2016) MiR-980 is a memory suppressor microRNA that regulates the autism-susceptibility gene A2bp1. Cell Rep 14: 1698-709. PMID: 26876166
  • Schutte, S.S., R.J. Schutte, E.V. Barragan, and D.K. O’Dowd(2016) Model systems for studying cellular mechanisms of SCN1A related epilepsy. J. Neurophysiol. 115: 1755-1766. PMID: 26843603
  • Williams, A.E., N. M. Aguilar-Roca, and D.K. O’Dowd(2016) Lecture capture podcasts: differential student use and performance in a large introductory course. Education Technology Research and Development64: 1-12. DOI 10.1007/s11423-015-9406-5.
  • Reimer, L., K. Schenke, T. Nguyen, D. K. O’Dowd, T. Domina, and M. Waschauer (2016) Evaluating promising practices in undergraduate STEM lecture courses. The Russell Sage Foundation Journal of the Social Sciences2: 212-233.
  • Schutte, Ryan J., S.S. Schutte, J.Algara, E.V. Barragan, J.Gilligan, Cynthia Staber, Yiannis A. Savva, Martin A. Smith, Robert Reenan, and Diane K. O’Dowd (2014) Knock-in model of Dravet Syndrome reveals a constitutive and conditional reduction in sodium current. J. Neurophysiol. 112: 903-912. PMID: 24805083
  • Brick, D.J., H.E. Nethercott, S. Montesano, M.G. Banuelos, A.E. Stover, S.S. Schutte, D. K. O’Dowd, R. J. Hagerman, M. Ono, D.R. Hessl, F. Tassone, and P.H. Schwartz (2014) The autism spectrum disorders stem cell resource at CHOC Children’s: Implication for disease modeling and drug discovery. Stem Cells Translational Medicine 3: 1275-1286. PMID: 25273538
  • Narayanareddy, B.R.J, S. Vartiainen, N. Hariri, D.K. O’Dowd and S.P. Gross(2014) A biophysical analysis of mitochondrial movement: differences between transport in neuronal cell bodies versus processes. Traffic 15: 762-71. PMID 24673933
  • Jiang*, S., A.E. Williams*, M. Warschauer, W. He, and D.K.O’Dowd (2014) Influence of incentives on performance in a Pre-college Biology MOOC. International Review of Research in Open and Distance Learning (IRRODL), 15.5 (*co-first authors).
  • Iniguez, J., S.S. Schutte, and D.K. O’Dowd (2013) Cav3-type α1T calcium channels mediate transient calcium currents that regulate repetitive firing in Drosophila antennal lobe PNs. J. Neurophysiol. 110: 1490-1496 PMID: 23864373
  • Stover, A., D. Brick, H. Nethercott, M. Banuelos, L. Sun, D. K. O’Dowd, and P. Schwartz (2013) Process-based expansion and neural differentation of human pluripotent stem cells for transplantation and disease-modeling. J. Neurosci. Res 91: 1247-1262. PMID: 23893392
  • Sun, L., J. Gilligan, C. Staber, R.J. Schutte, V. Nguyen, D.K.O’Dowd* and R. Reenan* (2012) A knock-in model of human epilepsy in Drosophila reveals a novel cellular mechanism associated with heat-induced seizure. J. Neurosci. 32: 14145-14155. *co-corresponding authors
  • Aguilar-Roca, N.M., A. E. Williams, and D.K. O’Dowd (2012) The impact of laptop-free zones on student performance and attitudes in large lectures.  Computers & Education, in press.
  • William, A., N.M. Aguilar-Roca, M. Tsai, M. Wong, M. Moravec Beaupré, and D. K. O’Dowd (2011) Assessment of learning gains associated with independent exam analysis in introductory biology. CBE-Life Science Education 10: 346-356. PMC3228653
  • Ren, P., H. Zhang, F. Qiu, Y.Q. Liu, H. Gu, D.K. O’Dowd, Q.Y. Zhou, and W.P. Hu. (2011) Prokineticin 2 regulates the electrical activity of rat suprachiasmatic nuclei neurons. PloSOne 6:(6):e20263. PMC3110640.
  • Anderson, W.A., U. Banerjee, C.L. Drennan, S.C.R. Elgin, I.R. Epstein, J. Handelsman, G.F. Hatfull, R. Losick*, D.K. O’Dowd*, B.M. Olivera, S.A. Strobel, G.C. Walker, and I.M. Warner (2011) Changing the Culture of Science Education at Research Universities. Science 331: 152-153. *corresponding authors.
  • Moravec, M, A. Williams, N. Aguilar-Roca, D.K. O’Dowd (2010) Learn before lecture: A strategy that improves learning outcomes in a large introductory biology class. CBE-Life Science Education 9: 473-481. PMC2995765
  • Gu*, H., S.A. Jiang*, J.M. Campusano*, J. Iniguez*, H. Su, A.A. Hoang, M. Lavian, X. Sun, and D.K.O’Dowd (2009) Cav2-type calcium channels encoded by cac regulate AP-independent neurotransmitter release at cholinergic synapses in adult Drosophila brain. J. Neurophysiol. 101: 42-53. * authors contributed equally. PMC2637009
  • Sheeba, V.*, H. Gu*, V.K. Sharma, D.K.O’Dowd, and T. Holmes (2008) Circadian- and light-dependent regulation of resting membrane potential and spontaneous action potential firing of Drosophila  circadian pacemaker neurons. J. Neurophysiol. 99: 976-88. *authors contributed equally to the work. PMC2692874
  • Oh, H-W, J,M. Campusano, L.G.W. Hilgenberg, X. Sun, M.A. Smith, and D.K. O’Dowd (2008) Ultrastructural analysis of chemical synapses and gap junctions between Drosophila brain neurons in culture. Dev. Neurobiology 68: 281-294.
  • Gu, H. and D.K. O’Dowd (2006) Cholinergic synaptic transmission in Drosophila Kenyon cells in situ. J. Neurosci. 26: 265-272. PMID: 16399696
  • Hilgenberg, L.G.W, H. Su, H. Gu, D.K.O’Dowd, and M.A. Smith (2006) a3Na+/K+-ATPase is a neuronal receptor for agrin. Cell 125: 359-369. PMID: 16630822

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