Sheryl G. Beck, BS, MS, PhD

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Research Associate Professor of Anesthesiology and Critical Care
Department: Anesthesiology and Critical Care

Contact information
Anesthesiology and Critical Care
4 North ARC, Room 402C
Children's Hospital of Philadelphia Research Institute
3615 Civic Center Boulevard
Philadelphia, PA 19104-4318
Office: 215-590-0651
Fax: 215-590-4107
B.S. (Psychology)
University of Washington , 1973.
M.S. (Psychology)
Western Washington State University , 1977.
Ph.D. (Major: Medical Psychology, Minor: Biochemistry)
Oregon Health Sciences University , 1981.
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Description of Research Expertise

The overall goal my laboratory is to elucidate how substrates of the stress response are involved in medical or psychiatric disorders. Specific areas of interest include the serotonin neurotransmitter system and its projections to forebrain nuclei in the regulation of stress and in the development of mood disorders. Our work focuses on interactions between serotonin, GABA, glutamate, corticotropin-releasing factor-like peptide systems; the impact of long term stress on neuronal function; developmental regulation of the 5-HT limbic system; circuitry linking stress substrates to monoamine systems; stress substrates as targets for psychotherapeutic agents. We have determined, for example, that the basic cellular characteristics, morphology, cell number and excitatory and inhibitory synaptic input to 5-HT neurons within the different subfields of the dorsal and median raphe are different, and they are selectively modulated in genetically engineered mice that have an anxious phenotype or in animal models that have been subjected to stress protocols. In addition, the circuitry of the CA1 subfield of the hippocampus has been selectively altered. Recent work has focused on the development of the dorsal and median raphe serotonin and GABA neurons. Interestingly the physiology of serotonin neurons demonstrate an immature phenotype in the first week after birth, developing mature characteristics within two weeks. This two week period is a critical period where environmental, genetic, pharmacological, physiological or behavioral perturbations alter the serotonin neurons physiology, leading to a predisposition to develop mood disorders. We are investigating how these changes in the raphe in the first few weeks of life then alter the physiology of their projection areas, such as the medial prefrontal cortex, hippocampus and amygdala. The techniques and approaches in the lab include whole cell electrophysiology, in vitro and in vivo single unit electrophysiology, immunohistochemistry, neuroanatomy, cellular morphology, western blot, behavior, and the use of genetically manipulated mouse models of mood disorders. My laboratory has extensive collaborations with a variety of researchers, including geneticists and molecular biologists at CHOP, University of Pennsylvania as well as other institutions such as Harvard, Case Western, Columbia University.

Selected Publications

Alexis Howerton, Alison Roland, Jessica Fluharty, Aniko Marshall, Alon Chen, Derek Daniels, Sheryl G. Beck, Tracy, L. Bale: Sex Differences in Corticotropin-Releasing Factor Receptor-1 Action Within the Dorsal Raphe Nucleus in Stress Responsivity. Biological Psychiatry 75(11): 873-883, June 2014.

Rood BD, Calizo LH, Piel D, Spangler ZP, Campbell K, Beck SG.: Dorsal raphe serotonin neurons in mice: immature hyperexcitability transitions to adult state during first three postnatal weeks suggesting sensitive period for environmental perturbation. Journal of Neuroscience 34(14): 4809-21, April 2014.

Spaethling Jennifer M, Piel David, Dueck Hannah, Buckley Peter T, Morris Jacqueline F, Fisher Stephen A, Lee Jaehee, Sul Jai-Yoon, Kim Junhyong, Bartfai Tamas, Beck Sheryl G, Eberwine James H: Serotonergic neuron regulation informed by in vivo single-cell transcriptomics. FASEB journal : official publication of the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology 28(2): 771-80, February 2014.

Challis C, Beck SG, Berton O.: Optogenetic modulation of descending prefrontocortical inputs to the dorsal raphe bidirectionally bias socioaffective choices after social defeat. Frontiers in Behavioral Neuroscience 8: 43, February 2014.

Benjamin D. Rood and Sheryl G. Beck: Vasopressin indirectly excites dorsal raphe serotonin neurons through activation of the vasopressin1A receptor. Neuroscience 260: 205-16, February 2014.

Li Y, Panossian LA, Zhang J, Zhu Y, Zhan G, Chou YT, Fenik P, Bhatnagar S, Piel DA, Beck SG, Veasey S.: Effects of chronic sleep fragmentation on wake-active neurons and the hypercapnic arousal response. Sleep 37(1): 51-64, January 2014.

Donaldson Zoe R, Piel David A, Santos Tabia L, Richardson-Jones Jesse, Leonardo E David, Beck Sheryl G, Champagne Frances A, Hen René: Developmental Effects of Serotonin 1A Autoreceptors on Anxiety and Social Behavior. Neuropsychopharmacology : official publication of the American College of Neuropsychopharmacology 39(2): 291-302, January 2014.

Challis Collin, Boulden Janette, Veerakumar Avin, Espallergues Julie, Vassoler Fair M, Pierce R Christopher, Beck Sheryl G, Berton Olivier: Raphe GABAergic neurons mediate the acquisition of avoidance after social defeat. The Journal of neuroscience : the official journal of the Society for Neuroscience 33(35): 13978-88, 13988a, Aug 2013.

Bangasser, D.A., Reyes, B.A., Piel, D., Garachh, V., Zhang, X.Y., Plona, Z.M., Van Bockstaele, E.J., Beck, S.G., Valentino, R.J.: Increased vulnerability of the brain norepinephrine system of females to corticotropin-releasing factor overexpression. Molecular psychiatry 18(2): 166-73, February 2013.

Crawford, L.K., Rahman, S.F., Beck, S.G.: Social stress alters inhibitory synaptic input to distinct subpopulations of raphe serotonin neurons. ACS chemical neuroscience 4(1): 200-9, January 2013.

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Last updated: 05/15/2014
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