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Mary Kay  Lobo

Mary Kay Lobo Ph.D.

Academic Title: Assistant Professor
Primary Appointment: Anatomy and Neurobiology
Secondary Appointments: Psychiatry
Location: HSF II, S265
Phone: (410) 706-8824

Personal History:

I completed my undergraduate degree in Biology and a minor in Anthropology at the University of California, Los Angeles. I received my PhD in Neuroscience in the laboratory of William Yang at the University of California, Los Angeles where I performed the first high throughput genetic profiling of the two striatal projection neurons. I then performed my Postdoctoral work in Eric Nestler's lab at University of Texas Southwestern in Dallas and Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York where I studied the differential genetic and functional role of the two striatal projection neurons in drug abuse.

Research Interests:

The lab's research focuses on the genetics, function, and behavioral roles of the two striatal medium spiny neuron subtypes and their circuits in the basal ganglia in neuropsychiatric diseases. We use tools to manipulate genetics and neuronal activity selectively in striatal projection neurons subtypes to better understand their role in addiction and depression. Combined with these approaches we can selectively profile genetic changes in these two neurons and their downstream brain nuclei in the basal ganglia circuit to better understand the molecular contribution of basal ganglia circuitry and cell subtypes within this circuit in these neuropsychiatric disorders.

Lab Techniques and Equipment:

  • Cell-type specific optogenetics
  • Cell-type specific gene expression profiling
  • Genetic manipulation of specific brain regions and cell-types using AAV and HSV viruses
  • Molecular biology techniques for studying gene expression and epigenetics
  • Behavioral paradigms to study drug abuse and mood related behaviors


Lobo, MK (2012) Lighting up the Brain's Reward Circuitry. Annals New York Academy of Sciences. In Press

Lobo, MK and Nestler, EJ (2011) The Striatal Balancing Act in Drug Addiction: Distinct Roles of Direct and Indirect Pathway Medium Spiny Neurons. Frontiers in Neuroanatomy. 5:1-11

Lobo MK, Covington III HE, Chaudhury D, Friedman A.K., Sun H, Damez-Werno D, Dietz DM, Zaman S, Koo JW, Kennedy PJ, Mouzon E, Mogri M, Neve RL, Deisseroth K, Han M-H, Nestler EJ. (2010) Cell-type specific loss of BDNF signaling mimics optogenetic control of cocaine reward. Science. 330: 385-390

Covington III HE, Lobo MK, Vialou V, Maze I, Hyman J, LaPlant Q, Mouzon E, Ghose S, Tamminga C, Neve R, Deisseroth K, Nestler EJ. (2010) Antidepressant effect of optogenetic stimulation of the medial prefrontal cortex. J Neurosci. 30:16082-09

Lobo MK. (2009) Molecular profiling of striatonigral and striatopallidal medium spiny neurons past, present, and future. Int Rev Neurobiol. 89:1-35.

Lobo MK, Yeh C, and Yang XW. (2008) Pivotal role of Ebf1 in development of striatonigral medium spiny neurons in the matrix compartment. J. Neurosci. Res. 86: 2134-2146

Lobo MK, Cui Y, Ostlund SB, Balleine BW and Yang XW. (2007) Genetic control of instrumental conditioning by striatopallidal neuron specific sphingosine-1-phosphate receptor Gpr6. Nature Neurosci. 11:1395-1397

Lobo MK, Karsten SL, Gray M, Geschwind DH, Yang XW. (2006) FACS-Array profiling of striatal projection neuron subtypes in juvenile and adult mouse brains. Nature Neurosci. 9:443- 452.