Dr. Joaquin Lugo
Associate Professor of Psychology and Neuroscience
Visit the Lugo Lab
Postdoctoral Fellowship: Department of Pediatrics-Neurology, Baylor College of Medicine, 2010
Ph.D.: Experimental Psychology, University of South Carolina-Columbia, 2004
B.S. Neuroscience: Baylor University, 1999
Dr. Lugo joined the Baylor faculty in 2010. He completed his postdoctoral research under the guidance in the Cain Foundation Laboratories in the department of Pediatrics-Neurology at Baylor College of Medicine. He received his Ph.D. in experimental psychology with a focus on behavioral neuroscience from the University of South Carolina-Columbia in 2004. Dr. Lugo enjoys spending time with his wife and two sons, running, and other outdoor activities.
Academic Interests and Research
Interests: Developmental epilepsy, the relationship between epilepsy and autism, and neural mechanisms underlying learning and memory in zebrafish larvae.
I investigate how seizures during different periods of neurodevelopment result in long-term changes in learning and memory, social behavior, and repetitive/stereotyped behaviors. I also investigate the neural mechanisms that mediate these changes through molecular and imaging techniques. In particular, I am examining how seizures induce changes in the mTOR and MAPK signaling pathways and how these changes lead to alterations in potassium channels and other synaptic proteins.
My interest in examining behavioral changes is also why I am examining the link between autism and epilepsy. Children with epilepsy have a high comorbidity with autism but the underlying mechanism is not known. I plan to investigate how seizures could lead to autistic-like behavior in mice.
My third research question is whether zebrafish larvae can be used as an animal model to investigate the impact of early-life seizures on behavior. Zebrafish have been greatly used in genetics and are increasingly be used in in vivo imaging studies. By examining whether seizures induce behavioral changes in zebrafish I will be able to examine the neurocircuitry changes underlying the behavioral alterations through numerous imaging and genetic techniques. Furthermore, since there are few tests to examine behaviors such as learning and memory in zebrafish my lab will also be creating and validating new behavioral assays.
Sunnen, C.N., Brewster, A. L., Lugo, J. N., Venegas, F., Turcios, E., Mukhi, S., Parghi, D., D'Arcangelo, D., Anderson, A. E. (In Revision). Inhibition of the mammalian target of rapamycin blocks epilepsy progression in NS-PTEN conditioninal knockout mice. Epilepsia.
Marcelin, B., Lugo, J. N., Anderson, A. E., Becker, A., Esclapez, M., Bernard, C. (In Revision). Increased Kv4.2 expression results in decreased backpropagation in CA1 pyramidal cell dendrites in dorsal versus ventral hippocampus. Nature Neuroscience.
Ljungberg, C., Sunnen , C.N., Lugo, J. N., Anderson, A. E. & D'Arcangelo, G. D. (2009). Rapamycin suppresses seizures and neuronal hypertrophy in a mouse model of cortical dysplasia. Disease Models & Mechanisms. Epub May 26, 2009.
Barnwell, L. F. S., Lugo, J. N., Lee, W., Willis, S. E., Gertz, S. J., Hrachovy, R. A., Anderson, A. E., (2009). Kv4.2 knockout mice demonstrate increased susceptibility to convulsant stimulation. Epilepsia. Epub: May 9, 2009.
Lugo, J. N., Barnwell, L. F., Johnston, L. D., Kim, R., Feng, C., Hrachovy, R. A., Sweatt, J. D., & Anderson, A. E. (2008). Altered phosphorylation and localization of the A-type channel, Kv4.2 in status epilepticus. Journal of Neurochemistry. 106(4):1929-40. PMCID2678944.
Jung, S., Jones, T. D., Lugo, J. N., Sherrin, A. H., Sherrin, J. W., D'Ambrosio, R., Anderson, A. E., Poolos, N. P. (2007). Progressive Dendritic HCN Channelopathy during Epileptogenesis in the Rat Pilocarpine Model of Epilepsy. Journal of Neuroscience. 27(47), 13012-12021.
Gass, G. T., Jenkins, W. J., Marino, M. D., Lugo, J. N., Kelly, S.J. (2007). Alcohol exposure during development: Analysis of effects on female sexual behavior. Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research. 31(12), 2065-2072.
Lugo, J. N., J. N., Wilson, M. A., Kelly, S. J. (2006). Perinatal ethanol exposure alters met-enkephalin levels of male and female rats. Neurotoxicology & Teratology, 28(2), 238-244.
Lugo, J. N., Marino, M. D. Gass, J. T., Wilson, M. A., & Kelly, S. J. (2006). Alcohol exposure during development reduces resident aggression and testosterone in rats. Physiology & Behavior, 87(2), 330-337.
Lugo, J. N., Lee, W., & Anderson, A. E. (In Press). Epilepsy genes- A. Single gene mutations as a cause of epilepsy: Post-translational modification of ion channels in epilepsy. In P. A. Schwartzkroin (Ed.), Encyclopedia of Basic Epilepsy Research. Oxford, UK: Elsevier Ltd.
Current Ph.D. Students:
Andrew Holley, Baylor University
Suzanne Nolan, University of Illinois, Urbana
Matthew Binder, Regis University
Courses taught at Baylor:
- PSY/NSC 3320 - Learning and Behavior
- PSY/NSC 4330 - Behavioral Neuroscience