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Christopher A. Ross

Christopher A. Ross

Department Affiliation: Primary: Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences; Secondary: Pharmacology and Molecular Sciences; Neurology and Neuroscience
Degree: M.D./Ph.D., Cornell University 
Rank: Professor
Telephone Number: 410-614-0011 or 614-0010
Fax Number: 410-614-0013
E-mail address:
Home Page URL:

School of Medicine Address: CMSC 8-121, 600 N. Wolfe Street, Baltimore, MD 21287

Neuropsychiatric disorders.

Professional Interests

In their study of neuropsychiatric disorders, Dr. Ross and his research team have focused on Huntington's disease and Parkinson's disease, and now are using insights from these disorders to approach more complex diseases such as schizophrenia and bipolar disorder.  They use biophysical and biochemical techniques, cell models, and transgenic mouse models to understand disease processes, and to provide targets for development of rational therapeutics.  These then can provide a basis for developing small molecule interventions, which can be used both as probes to study biology, and if they have favorable drug-like properties, for potential therapeutic development.  We have used two strategies for identifying lead compounds.  The first is the traditional path of identification of specific molecular targets, such as enzymes like the LRRK2 kinase of Parkinson’s disease.  Once structure is known, computational approaches or fragment based lead discovery, in collaboration, can be used.  The second is to conduct phenotypic screens using cell models, or in a collaboration, natural products in a yeast model.  Once a lead compound is identified, we use cell models for initial tests of compounds, then generate analogs, and take compounds that look promising to preclinical therapeutic studies in animal models.  The ultimate goal is to develop therapeutic strategies that can be brought to human clinical trials, and we have pioneered in developing biomarkers and genetic testing for developing strategies.

Representative Publications:

  • Ross, C.A., Margolis, R.L.  Schizophrenia: A point of disruption.  Nature 458(7241):976-977, 2009.  Pub Med Reference 
  • Ratovitski, T., Gucek, M., Jiang, H., Chighladze, E., Waldron, E., D'Ambola, J., Hou, Z., Liang, Y., Poirier, M.A., Hirschhorn, R.R., Graham, R., Hayden, M.R., Cole, R.N., Ross, C.A.  Mutant huntingtin N-terminal fragments of specific size mediate aggregation and toxicity in neuronal cells.  J. Biol. Chem. 2009 Apr 17;284(16):10855-10867, 2009.  Pub Med Reference 
  • Wood, J.D., Bonath, F., Kumar, S., Ross, C.A., Cunliffe, V.T.  Disrupted-in-schizophrenia 1 and neuregulin 1 are required for the specification of oligodendrocytes and neurones in the zebrafish brain.  Hum. Mol. Genet. 18(3):391-404, 2008. Pub Med Reference
  • Duan, W., Peng, Q., Masuda, N., Ford, E., Tryggestad, E., Ladenheim, B., Zhao, M., Cadet, J.L., Wong, J., Ross, C.A.  Sertraline slows disease progression and increases neurogenesis in N171-82Q mouse model of Huntington's disease.  Neurobiol Dis. 30(3):312-322, 2008. Pub Med Reference
  • Masuda, N., Peng, Q., Li, Q., Jiang, M., Liang, Y., Wang, X., Zhao, M., Wang, W., Ross, C.A., Duan, W.  Tiagabine is neuroprotective in the N171-82Q and R6/2 mouse models of Huntington's disease.  Neurobiol. Dis. 30(3):293-302, 2008.  Pub Med Reference 
  • Ross, C.A., Margolis, R.L., Reading, S.A., Pletnikov, M., Coyle, J.T.  Neurobiology of schizophrenia.  Neuron 52(1):139-153, 2006.  Pub Med Reference
  • Smith, W.W., Pei, Z., Jiang, H., Dawson, V.L., Dawson, T.M., Ross, C.A.  Kinase activity of mutant LRRK2 mediates neuronal toxicity.  Nature Neurosci. 9 (10):1231-1233, 2006. Pub Med Reference
  • Wang, W., Duan, W., Igarashi, S., Morita, H., Nakamura, M., Ross, C.A.  Compounds blocking mutant huntingtin toxicity identified using a Huntington's disease neuronal cell model.  Neurobiol. Dis. 20(2):500-508, 2005.  Pub Med Reference
  • Smith, W.W., Pei, Z., Jiang, H., Moore, D.J., Liang, Y., West, A.B., Dawson, V.L., Dawson, T.M., Ross, C.A.  Leucine-rich repeat kinase 2 (LRRK2) interacts with parkin, and mutant LRRK2 induces neuronal degeneration.  Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 102(51):18676-18681, 2005. Pub Med Reference 
  • Aylward, E.H., Sparks, B.F., Field, K.M., Yallapragada, V., Shpritz, B.D., Rosenblatt, A., Brandt, J., Gourley, L.M., Liang, K., Zhou, H., Margolis, R.L., Ross, C.A. Onset and rate of striatal atrophy in preclinical Huntington disease. Neurology 63(1):66-72, 2004.  Pub Med Reference


Other graduate program in which Dr. Ross participates:

Cellular and Molecular Medicine Graduate Program (CMM)