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Mary Elizabeth Blue, Ph.D.

  • Research Scientist
  • Associate Professor of Neurology


Dr. Blue graduated cum laude with her bachelor''s degree in biology and art from Cornell College in Mount Vernon, Iowa in 1977. She received her doctoral degree from the Department of Cell Biology at the University of Texas Health Science Center at Dallas in Dallas, TX, in 1982. Dr. Blue continued her career as a postdoctoral fellow in the Department of Cell Biology and Neuroscience at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in Baltimore, MD from 1982 to 1989 and has continued as research scientist at Kennedy Krieger Institute since then. Dr. Blue was an assistant professor in the Department of Neurology at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine from 1992 to 1999, and since 2000 has served as an associate professor in the Department of Neurology and associate professor in the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in the Department of Neuroscience. more


  • Research Scientist
  • Associate Professor of Neurology
  • Associate Professor of Neuroscience

Departments / Divisions


Additional Training

  • The Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Baltimore, MD, 1989, Cell Biology and Neuroscience

Research & Publications

Research Summary

Dr. Blue’s lab examines the roles neurotransmitters play as trophic agents in cortical development and plasticity. This research has demonstrated that monoaminergic and glutamatergic neurotransmitter systems are both altered by and influence injury in neonatal and adult hypoxia-ischemia animal models and in specific developmental disorders such as Down syndrome, autism and Rett syndrome (both in postmortem tissue and in animal models).

Activity-dependent plasticity plays an important role in the "sculpting" of synaptic connections in the postnatal human cerebral cortex and in the "reassignment" of cortex during recovery after early brain injuries. These plasticity studies focus on mechanisms by which cerebral cortex is influenced by peripheral stimuli and by which function is reassigned from one area of brain to another after neonatal injury. To study these mechanisms the rodent whisker-to-barrel system is used as a model of cortical plasticity. Rats and mice use their whiskers to navigate in their world and a precise "map" of the rodent face and whiskers is relayed through the brain to the cerebral cortex. Specialized anatomical configurations called "barrels" structurally and functionally linked to individual whiskers. Much like the reorganization of the human cortex after amputation, peripheral injury resulting from ablation of a single whisker follicle produces atrophy of the cortical barrel connected to it, and enhanced growth of surrounding barrels. These results suggest that glutamate receptors appear to mediate activity-dependent enlargement of some barrels and retraction of others in response to whisker clipping. Other studies have shown that neurotransmitter-specific afferents to the cortex (including acetylcholine-containing axons from the nucleus basalis) influence the degree of cortical plasticity.


Lab Website: Mary Blue Laboratory

Selected Publications

View all on PubMed

  1. Dendrimer brain uptake and targeted therapy for brain injury in a large animal model of hypothermic circulatory arrest. Mishra MK, Beaty CA, Lesniak WG, Kambhampati SP, Zhang F, Wilson MA, Blue ME, Troncoso JC, Kannan S, Johnston MV, Baumgartner WA, Kannan RM. ACS Nano. 2014 Mar 25;8(3):2134-47. doi: 10.1021/nn404872e. Epub 2014 Feb 19. PMID: 24499315
  2. Preclinical research in Rett syndrome: setting the foundation for translational success. Katz DM, Berger-Sweeney JE, Eubanks JH, Justice MJ, Neul JL, Pozzo-Miller L, Blue ME, Christian D, Crawley JN, Giustetto M, Guy J, Howell CJ, Kron M, Nelson SB, Samaco RC, Schaevitz LR, St Hillaire-Clarke C, Young JL, Zoghbi HY, Mamounas LA. Dis Model Mech. 2012 Nov;5(6):733-45. doi: 10.1242/dmm.011007. Review. PMID: 23115203
  3. Serum levels of neuron-specific ubiquitin carboxyl-terminal esterase-L1 predict brain injury in a canine model of hypothermic circulatory arrest. Arnaoutakis GJ, George TJ, Wang KK, Wilson MA, Allen JG, Robinson CW, Haggerty KA, Weiss ES, Blue ME, Talbot CC Jr, Troncoso JC, Johnston MV, Baumgartner WA. J Thorac Cardiovasc Surg. 2011 Oct;142(4):902-910.e1. doi: 10.1016/j.jtcvs.2011.06.027. PMID: 21924148
  4. Temporal and regional alterations in NMDA receptor expression in Mecp2-null mice. Blue ME, Kaufmann WE, Bressler J, Eyring C, O'driscoll C, Naidu S, Johnston MV. Anat Rec (Hoboken). 2011 Oct;294(10):1624-34. doi: 10.1002/ar.21380. Epub 2011 Sep 8. PMID: 21901842
  5. Ocular MECP2 protein expression in patients with and without Rett syndrome. Jain D, Singh K, Chirumamilla S, Bibat GM, Blue ME, Naidu SR, Eberhart CG. Pediatr Neurol. 2010 Jul;43(1):35-40. doi: 10.1016/j.pediatrneurol.2010.02.018. PMID: 20682201

Activities & Honors


  • Award for Best Poster Presentation from the Research for Rett Foundation at the World Congress on Rett Syndrome, Gothenburg

Videos & Media

Lectures and Presentations

  • Modeling abnormal behavior, when more is better
    Symposium on animal models of developmental disorders, Key West, Florida (06/01/2004)
    International Behavioral Neuroscience Society Annual Meeting
  • Working group exploring the commonalities and differences in the developmental disorders autism, Fragile X and Rett syndrome
    Newport, Rhode Island (07/01/2004)
  • TV and radio program, WJZ-13, Just in Time, with Kai Jackson
    Baltimore, Maryland (05/01/2005)
  • Clinical Trials for Rett Syndrome
    San Francisco, California (05/01/2006)
  • GTC Bio meeting on Epigenetics in Developmental Disorders
    Beltsville, Maryland (09/01/2006)
  • Defense Science Research Council (DSRC) Data Fusion Workshop
    Arlington, Virginia (11/01/2006)
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