Dieter Brandner

Entering Class - 2018

Member of MSTP (MD/PhD) program


Undergraduate Institution and Major:

Whitman College, B.A. in Biology, 2013

Graduate Advisor:

Patrick Rothwell, Ph.D., Department of Neuroscience

Graduate Research:

The nucleus accumbens is an important neural substrate of motivated behavior, and alterations in accumbens circuitry have been implicated in a host of human neuropsychiatric disorders ranging from addiction and drug abuse to obsessive compulsive disorder and autism spectrum disorders. I am working with Dr. Patrick Rothwell to investigate the role inhibitory synapses in controlling nucleus accumbens physiology and the behavioral effects of alterations to inhibitory signaling in this region. We are currently interested in the role of Neuroligin-3, a postsynaptic adhesion protein, in controlling structural plasticity at inhibitory synapses following exposure to drugs of abuse

Graduate Publications:

  • Gross KS, Brandner DD, Martinez LA, Olive MF, Meisel RL, Mermelstein PG. Opposite effects of mGluR1a and mGluR5 activation on nucleus accumbens medium spiny neuron dendritic spine density. PLoS One. 2016; 11:e0162755.


Paul Mermelstein, Ph.D., Department of Neuroscience

Patrick Rothwell, Ph.D., Department of Neuroscience

Graduate Awards:

Morris Smithberg Memorial Award   2020

Ruth Kirschstein Individual Research Service Award F30 2020-2024

Graduate Publications:

  • Toddes C, Lefevre EM, Brandner DD, Zugschwert L, Rothwell PE. Mu opioid receptor (Oprm1) copy number influences nucleus accumbens microcircuitry and reciprocal social behaviors. J Neurosci. 2021 Jul 22:JN-RM-2440-20.

Prior Publications:

  • Bagi Z, Brandner DD, Le P, McNeal DW, Gong X, Dou H, Fulton DJ, Beller A, Ngyuen T, Larson EB, Montine TJ, Keene CD, Back SA. Vasodilator dysfunction and oligodendrocyte dysmaturation in aging white matter. Ann Neurol. 2018 Jan;83(1):142-152.
  • McNeal DW, Brandner DD, Gong X, Postupna NO, Montine TJ, Keene CD, Back SA. Unbiased stereological analysis of reactive astrogliosis to estimate age-associated cerebral white matter injury. J Neuropathol Exp Neurol. 2016;75(6):539-54.
Picture of Dieter Brandner