Mollie K. Meffert, M.D., Ph.D., M.S.

  • Vice Director, Department of Biological Chemistry
  • Associate Professor of Biological Chemistry


Dr. Mollie Meffert is an associate professor of biological chemistry and neuroscience at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. Her research focuses on the regulation of neuronal gene expression in health and disease.

Dr. Meffert received her undergraduate degree from Stanford University. She also earned her MD/Ph.D in neuroscience from Stanford University. She completed a postdoctoral fellowship at California Institute of Technology with Dr. David Baltimore. Dr. Meffert currently serves as the Vice-Director of the Department of Biological Chemistry

The Meffert lab studies gene control mechanisms underlying enduring changes in brain function. We are interested in understanding how programs of gene expression are coordinated and maintained to produce altered synaptic, neuronal, and cognitive function. Rather than concentrating on single genes, our research is particularly focused on revealing upstream processes that can perform synchronous up and down-regulation of the many genes required to orchestrate physiological responses.

Our laboratory elucidated a post-transcriptional mechanism capable of organizing pro-growth gene programs in which activity-dependent regulation of microRNA (miRNA) production governs the selection of gene targets for protein synthesis.  An RNA-binding protein, Lin28, is one activity-responsive factor that promotes pro-growth protein synthesis by downregulating only select miRNAs (e.g. Let-7 ‘tumor suppressor’ miRNAs), which repress pro-growth genes.  In neurons, pro-growth mRNA targets of the Let-7 miRNAs include mRNA for proteins involved in excitatory synaptic function, as well as growth and repair.  An ongoing focus of investigations in our laboratory is aimed at further exploration of the importance of miRNA biogenesis in determining rapid and specific changes in the neuronal and synaptic proteome and the in vivo roles of these pathways in healthy and dysregulated brain function. 

Dr. Meffert’s work has been recognized with a number of awards including the March of Dimes research scholar, a Simons Foundation Autism Research Initiative award, the PLU Rho Award, the Alfred P. Sloan Research Fellow Award, and the Sontag Foundation Distinguished Scientist Award. more


  • Vice Director, Department of Biological Chemistry
  • Associate Professor of Biological Chemistry
  • Associate Professor of Neuroscience

Departments / Divisions

Centers & Institutes



  • B.S.; Stanford University (California) (1990)
  • M.D.; Stanford University (California) (1997)
  • M.S.; Stanford University (California) (1990)
  • Ph.D.; Stanford University (California) (1997)

Additional Training

California Inst. of Technology, Pasadena, CA

Research & Publications

Research Summary

Exploring how gene expression determines synaptic function

Mollie Meffert is a neuroscientist whose laboratory investigates how gene programs modify the brain during experience and disease.  The Meffert Lab uses mouse genetics and animal models, molecular and biochemical strategies, expression arrays and bioinformatics, virology, histology, live confocal imaging and electrophysiology to explore the importance of gene expression in information storage at both transcriptional and post-transcriptional levels.


The Meffert laboratory is particularly interested in how changes in synaptic activity are converted into long-term alterations in the function and connectivity of neurons through the modulation of gene expression. How do gene programs modify the brain during experience and disease?

The laboratory integrates multiple approaches to address the importance of gene expression in information storage at both transcriptional and post-transcriptional levels. They use animal models and techniques of molecular biology, cell biology, biochemistry, high-throughput expression analysis and bioinformatics, virology, histology, confocal imaging, electrophysiology, mouse genetics and behavior. Neuronal gene products of interest include both proteins and non-coding RNAs.

Lab Website: Mollie Meffert Lab

Selected Publications

View all on PubMed

Erica C. Dresselhaus, Matthew C. Boersma, and Mollie K. Meffert, (2018), Targeting of NF-kB to dendritic spines is required for synaptic signaling and spine development. J.Neurosci., 8(17); 4093-4103.   PMID 29555853.

Laurel M. Oldach, Kirill Gorshkov,William T. Mills, Jin Zhang*, and Mollie Meffert* (2018), A biosensor for MAPK-dependent Lin28 signaling. Molecular Biology of the Cell, 29(10), 1157-1167.  PMID29540527.

Alexandra M Amen, Claudia R. Ruiz, Jay Shi, Megha Subramanian, Daniel Pham, and Mollie K. Meffert, (2017) A rapid induction mechanism for Lin28a in trophic responses.  Molecular Cell, 65 (3); 490 - 503.

Subramanian M, Timmerman CK, Schwartz JL, Pham DL, Meffert MK. Characterizing autism spectrum disorders by key biochemical pathways. Front Neurosci. 2015 Sep 24;9:313. doi: 10.3389/fnins.2015.00313. eCollection 2015.

Yu-Wen A. Huang*, Claudia R. Ruiz*, E.C.H. Eyler*, Kathie Lin, and Mollie K. Meffert. “Dual regulation of miRNA biogenesis generates target specificity in neurotrophin-induced protein synthesis.” Cell, 148(5); 933-946. 2012.

Contact for Research Inquiries

725 N. Wolfe Street
413 Physiology Building
Baltimore, MD 21205 map
Phone: 410-502-2570
Fax: 410-955-5759

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Academic Affiliations & Courses

Graduate Program Affiliation

Graduate Program in Biological Chemistry

Biochemistry, Cellular and Molecular Biology Graduate Program

Neuroscience Graduate Program

XDBio cross-disciplinary graduate training program

Activities & Honors


  • Alfred P. Sloan Research Fellow Award, 2008
  • Distinguished Scientist Award, Sontag Foundation , 2008
  • Della Martin Foundation Postdoctoral Fellowship Award, 1998 - 2000
  • Beckman Scholar in Cell Sciences Award, 1994 - 1995
  • PLU Rho Award

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