The NIMH/Vanderbilt Silvio O. Conte Center for Neuroscience Research, established through funding from the National Institute of Mental Health and the Vanderbilt University School of Medicine, supports research and training to elucidate gene, protein and cellular networks through which serotonin (5-HT) modulates brain development, signaling, plasticity and mental illness. 

Now in its second cycle, Enduring Effects of Early-Life Serotonin Signaling, the Conte Center Investigators will explore the theory that tight control of developmental determinants of serotonin signaling is required to achieve normal patterns of behavioral flexibility and to minimize the risk for life-long neuropsychiatric disorders.

The Center consists of four investigators and their projects, and five associated cores that provide administrative and scientific support.  Randy Blakely, Ph.D., is the Conte Center Director and Mark Wallace, Ph.D., serves as Co-Director of the Administrative Core and oversees its outreach and education efforts.

Conte Center Investigators and Projects

  • Evan Deneris, Ph.D., Early Brain Serotonin and Its Lasting Impact on Neuronal Epigenetic Programming
  • Pat Levitt, Ph.D., Influence of Placental Serotonin on Neural Development and Behavior
  • Randy Blakely,Ph.D., Modeling the Serotonin Contribution to Autism Spectrum Disorders
  • Ronald Emeson, Ph.D., Stress-Mediated Alterations in Serotonin 2C Receptor Editing and Function

Conte Center Cores:

  • Administrative Core including Outreach and Education
    • Randy Blakely, Ph.D., Core Director
    • Mark Wallace, Ph.D., Core Co-Director
  • Bioanalytical Core
    • Ariel Deutch, Core Director
    • Paul Gresch, Ph.D., Core Co-Director
  • Physiology and Behavior Core
    • Douglas McMahon, Ph.D., Core Director
    • Gregg Stanwood, Ph.D., Core Co-Director
  • Molecular Neuroanatomy Core
    • Pat Levitt, Ph.D., Core Director
    • Juli Wu, Ph.D., Core Co-Director
  • Bioinformatics and Biostatistics Core
    • Bing Zhang, Ph.D., Core Director




Featured publications

  1. GLAD4U: deriving and prioritizing gene lists from PubMed literature. Jourquin J, Duncan D, Shi Z, Zhang B (2012) BMC Genomics : S20
    › Primary publication · 23282288 (PubMed) · PMC3535723 (PubMed Central)
  2. Generation of myometrium-specific Bmal1 knockout mice for parturition analysis. Ratajczak CK, Asada M, Allen GC, McMahon DG, Muglia LM, Smith D, Bhattacharyya S, Muglia LJ (2012) Reprod Fertil Dev 24(5): 759-67
    › Primary publication · 22697126 (PubMed)
  3. Engrailed is required in maturing serotonin neurons to regulate the cytoarchitecture and survival of the dorsal raphe nucleus. Fox SR, Deneris ES (2012) J Neurosci 32(23): 7832-42
    › Primary publication · 22674259 (PubMed) · PMC3521159 (PubMed Central)
  4. The SSRI citalopram affects fetal thalamic axon responsiveness to netrin-1 in vitro independently of SERT antagonism. Bonnin A, Zhang L, Blakely RD, Levitt P (2012) Neuropsychopharmacology 37(8): 1879-84
    › Primary publication · 22414815 (PubMed) · PMC3376320 (PubMed Central)
  5. Serotonergic transcriptional networks and potential importance to mental health. Deneris ES, Wyler SC (2012) Nat Neurosci 15(4): 519-27
    › Primary publication · 22366757 (PubMed) · PMC3594782 (PubMed Central)
  6. Fetal, maternal, and placental sources of serotonin and new implications for developmental programming of the brain. Bonnin A, Levitt P (2011) Neuroscience : 1-7
    › Primary publication · 22001683 (PubMed) · PMC3225275 (PubMed Central)
  7. Interactions of the serotonin and circadian systems: nature and nurture in rhythms and blues. Ciarleglio CM, Resuehr HE, McMahon DG (2011) Neuroscience : 8-16
    › Primary publication · 21963350 (PubMed)
  8. Networking in autism: leveraging genetic, biomarker and model system findings in the search for new treatments. Veenstra-VanderWeele J, Blakely RD (2012) Neuropsychopharmacology 37(1): 196-212
    › Primary publication · 21937981 (PubMed) · PMC3238072 (PubMed Central)
  9. Molecular genetics of mouse serotonin neurons across the lifespan. Deneris ES (2011) Neuroscience : 17-27
    › Primary publication · 21920412 (PubMed) · PMC3295611 (PubMed Central)
  10. Quantitative analysis of 5HT(2C) receptor RNA editing patterns in psychiatric disorders. O'Neil RT, Emeson RB (2012) Neurobiol Dis 45(1): 8-13
    › Primary publication · 21914481 (PubMed) · PMC3225646 (PubMed Central)