Department of Anesthesiology and Critical Care

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Sheryl G. Beck, BS, MS, PhD

Research Associate Professor of Anesthesiology and Critical Care
Associate member of Children's Hospital of Philadelphia Research Institute, The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia
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
Graduate Group Affiliations
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.
Post-Graduate Training
Pharmacology, Mount Sinai School of Medicine , New York, NY , 1981-1983.
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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

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.

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 Nov 2013.

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.

Willem Heydendael, Abhishek Sengupta, Sheryl G. Beck, Seema Bhatnagar: Optogenetic examination identifies a context-specific role for orexins/hypocretins in anxiety-related behavior. Physiology & Behavior in press, on line, 18 October 2013.

Moore, J.T., Chen, J., Han, B., Meng, Q.C., Veasey, S.C., Beck, S.G., Kelz, M.B.: Direct activation of sleep-promoting VLPO neurons by volatile anesthetics contributes to anesthetic hypnosis. Current Biology 22(21): 2008-16, November 2012.

Espallergues, J., Teegarden, S., Veerakumar, A., Boulden, J., Chan, M., Petersen, T., Deneris, E., Matthias, P., Lucki, I., Beck, S.G., Berton, O.: HDAC6 regulates GR signaling in serotonin pathways with critical impact on stress resilience. Journal of Neuroscience 32(13): 4400-16, Mar 2012.

Heydendael, W., Sharma, K., Iyer, V., Luz, S., Piel, D., Beck, S.G., Bhatnagar, S.: Orexins/Hypocretins Act in the Posterior Paraventricular Thalamic Nucleus During Repeated Stress to Regulate Facilitation to Novel Stress Endocrinology 152(12): 4738, December 2011.

Crawford, L.K., Craige, C.P., Beck, S.G.: Glutamatergic input is selectively increased in dorsal raphe subfield 5-HT neurons: role of morphology, topography and selective innervation. European Journal of Neuroscience 34(11): 1794, December 2011.

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Last updated: 03/14/2014
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