University of Southern California

USC Neuroscience

Roberta Diaz Brinton


R. Pete Vanderveen Chair in Therapeutic Discovery and Development
Professor of Pharmacology and Pharmaceutical Sciences, Biomedical Engineering and Neurology
Norris Foundation Laboratory for Neuroscience Research
Director, USC STAR Science Education Program
Director Preclinical Translation & Regulatory Support, SC Clinical & Translational Science Institute

Research Topics

  1. Cellular Neurobiology
  2. Neurogenetics
  3. Pharmacology
  4. Learning & Memory
  5. Aging

Research Overview

Our research has two levels of expression, elucidation of fundamental cellular mechanisms of cognitive function and the application of those principles to the discovery and design of therapeutic molecules and devices for the treatment of disorders of the nervous system. Our research team is currently focused on design of an estrogen replacement therapy for the brain, neurogenesis from neural stem cells, design of molecules for the treatment of learning disability, DNA repair in neurons and regulation of the immune response in brain. For further details regarding our ongoing research projects, our research team and publications the reader is referred to the Brinton Laboratory web site at

For those interested in science education outreach efforts by USC Life Science Graduate Students please see the USC Science, Technology and Research - STAR Program web site at

Contact Information

Web Sites:
Brinton Research Laboratory Home Page
USC STAR Program
Kenneth T. and Eileen L. Norris Foundation Research Laboratory for Neuroscience Research
Mailing Address:
9121 HSC
Office Location:
PSC 502
Office Phone:
(323) 442-1430
(323) 442-1740


  • BA(Honors) 1979 Psychobiology - University of Arizona
  • MA 1981 Neuropsychology - University of Arizona
  • PhD 1984 Psychobiology & Neuropharmacology - University of Arizona

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Selected Publications

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Irwin RW, Yao J, To J, Hamilton RT, Cadenas E, Brinton RD. Selective Oestrogen Receptor Modulators Differentially Potentiate Brain Mitochondrial Function. J Neuroendocrinol. 2011 Nov 9. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2826.2011.02251. -PubMed

Yao J, Rettberg JR, Klosinski LP, Cadenas E, Brinton RD. Shift in brain metabolism in late onset Alzheimer's disease: Implications for biomarkers and therapeutic interventions. Mol Aspects Med. 2011 Aug;32(4-6):247-57. Epub 2011 Oct 21.

Chen S, Wang JM, Irwin RW, Yao J, Liu L, Brinton RD. Allopregnanolone promotes regeneration and reduces ?-amyloid burden in a preclinical model of Alzheimer's disease.PLoS One. 2011;6(8):e24293. Epub 2011 Aug 30.

Yao J, Brinton RD. Targeting mitochondrial bioenergetics for Alzheimer's prevention and treatment. Curr Pharm Des. 2011;17(31):3474-9. -PubMed

Yao J, Chen S, Mao Z, Cadenas E, Brinton RD. 2-Deoxy-D-glucose treatment induces ketogenesis, sustains mitochondrial function, and reduces pathology in female mouse model of Alzheimer's disease. PLoS One. 2011;6(7):e21788. Epub 2011 Jul 1.

Zhao L, Mao Z, Schneider LS, Brinton RD. Estrogen receptor ?-selective phytoestrogenic formulation prevents physical and neurological changes in a preclinical model of human menopause. Menopause. 2011 Oct;18(10):1131-42.

Bali N, Arimoto JM, Iwata N, Lin SW, Zhao L, Brinton RD, Morgan TE, Finch CE. Differential Responses of Progesterone Receptor Membrane Component-1 (Pgrmc1) and the Classical Progesterone Receptor (Pgr) to 17?-Estradiol and Progesterone in Hippocampal Subregions that Support Synaptic Remodeling and Neurogenesis. Endocrinology. 2011 Dec 6.  -PubMed

Liu L, Zhao L, She H, Chen S, Wang JM, Wong C, McClure K, Sitruk-Ware R, Brinton RD. Clinically relevant progestins regulate neurogenic and neuroprotective responses in vitro and in vivo.  Endocrinology. 2010 Dec;151(12):5782-94. Epub 2010 Oct 13. -PubMed

Yao J, Hamilton RT, Cadenas E, Brinton RD. Decline in mitochondrial bioenergetics and shift to ketogenic profile in brain during reproductive senescence. Biochim Biophys Acta. 2010 Oct;1800(10):1121-6. Epub 2010 Jun 9. -PubMed

Wang JM, Singh C, Liu L, Irwin RW, Chen S, Chung EJ, Thompson RF, Brinton RD. Allopregnanolone reverses neurogenic and cognitive deficits in mouse model of Alzheimer's disease. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2010 Apr 6;107(14):6498-503. Epub 2010 Mar 15. Erratum in: Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2010 Jun 15;107(24):11145. -PubMed