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Kimberly Michele Christian, Ph.D.

Photo of Dr. Kimberly Michele Christian, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor of Neurology

Background

Kimberly M. Christian is an assistant professor in the department of neurology at the Institute for Cell Engineering at Johns Hopkins University. Her research focuses on identifying mechanisms underlying cognitive and systems-level dysfunction due to neurodevelopmental, psychiatric and neurological disorders. In particular, she focuses on adult hippocampal neurogenesis and its role in hippocampal-dependent memory under normal and pathological conditions. 

Dr. Christian received her undergraduate degree in philosophy from the University of California at Berkeley. She earned her PhD in neuroscience from the University of Southern California. She completed a postdoctoral fellowship at the National Institute of Mental Health in Bethesda, Maryland and at the Institute for Cell Engineering at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine in Baltimore, Maryland.

Dr. Christian joined the Johns Hopkins faculty in 2014.

Dr. Christian is a member of the American Psychological Association as well as the Youth Mentoring Task Force at Johns Hopkins University. She also serves as Assistant Editor in Frontiers in Biology. Her work has been most recently recognized with the Brenda A. Milner Award, Division 6 of the American Psychological Association. 

 

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Titles

  • Assistant Professor of Neurology

Departments / Divisions

Education

Degrees

  • B.A., University of California (Berkeley) (California) (1993)
  • Ph.D., University of Southern California (California) (2004)

Research & Publications

Research Summary

The overarching objective of my research is to identify mechanisms underlying cognitive and systems-level dysfunction due to neurodevelopmental, psychiatric and neurological disorders. In particular, I have focused on adult hippocampal neurogenesis and its role in hippocampal-dependent memory under normal and pathological conditions. Adult hippocampal neurogenesis is a robust and dynamic process that continuously reshapes the local circuitry and is a putative locus of dysregulation contributing to cognitive impairments, affective disorders and seizure susceptibility in epilepsy. It is also a tractable model system in which to investigate basic principles of neuronal development and the regenerative potential of the mature brain. Using a combination of optogenetic, behavioral, and in vivo electrophysiological approaches, I am investigating the endogenous functional role of adult-born neurons in information processing, which should provide more insight into how disrupted adult neurogenesis may contribute to hippocampal dysfunction. Another emerging focus of my research is the use of induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) to investigate the cellular pathology related to psychiatric and neurological disorders and the functional impact of genetic risk factors. Integrating complementary approaches using both animal models and iPSCs should help to reveal how perturbations of cellular function at the molecular level can lead to global impairments in brain function.

Academic Affiliations & Courses

Courses and Syllabi

  • Lecturer, Undergraduate level, Stem Cells and the Biology of Aging and Disease (AS.020.337)
    Johns Hopkins University
    2016
  • Modeling Psychiatric Disease using Human iPSCs, Biotech Laboratory Workshop, Foundation for Advanced Education in the Sciences (FAES)
    National Institutes of Health
    2016

Activities & Honors

Honors

  • Brenda A. Milner Award, Division 6 of the American Psychological Association, 2005 - 2006
  • Student of the Year, Neuroscience Program (USC), 2004 - 2005
  • William E. Trusten Award, USC, 2004 - 2005
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