Helen N. Schwerdt, PhD

  • Assistant Professor, Bioengineering
Image of Helen Schwerdt

Phone

412-383-5312

E-mail

hes100@pitt.edu

Personal Website

http://schwerdt.pitt.edu

Education & Training

PhD, Arizona State University (2014)

Location

4071 Biomedical Science Tower 3
 

Research Interest Summary

Multi-modal neural signaling mediating learning and plasticity in health and disease

My lab is interested in building and applying novel brain implantable interfaces to understand and treat brain function and dysfunction in a new way. Our multi-modal approach allows looking at co-active chemical and electrical modes of neural signaling, synchronously. In parallel, we are working on making these implantable devices safer to allow for potential functional long-term use in human diagnostics and treatment. Our devices are applied in task performing nonhuman primates (i.e. Rhesus monkeys) to probe the molecular (e.g. dopamine) and electrical neural signals mediating neural plasticity. Co-active changes in dopamine and electrical neural activity dynamics in distinct populations of neurons lead to changes in plasticity that regulate learning and the formation of skills—behaviors that are quantified in our tasks. We will further evaluate how these behaviors and neural signals become impaired in models of Parkinson's disease and major mood disorders to help identify more accurate biomarkers of disease as well as targets for treatment.

H.N. Schwerdt, K. Amemori, D.J. Gibson, L.L. Stanwicks, T. Yoshida, N.P. Bichot, S. Amemori, R. Desimone, R. Langer, M.J. Cima, and A.M. Graybiel, “Dopamine and beta-band oscillations differentially link to striatal value and motor control,” Science Advances, vol. 6, no. 39, pp. 1–16, Sept. 2020.

H.N. Schwerdt, E. Zhang, M.J. Kim, T. Yoshida, L. Stanwicks, S. Amemori, H.E. Dagdeviren, R. Langer, M.J. Cima, and A.M. Graybiel, “Cellular scale probes enable stable chronic subsecond monitoring of dopamine neurochemicals in a rodent model,” Communications Biology, vol. 144, pp. 1–11, Sept. 2018.

H.N. Schwerdt, H. Shimazu, K. Amemori, S. Amemori, P.L. Tierney, D.J. Gibson, S. Hong, T. Yoshida, R. Langer, M.J. Cima, and A.M. Graybiel, “Long-term dopamine neurochemical monitoring in primates,” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, vol. 114, no. 50, pp. 13260–13265, Nov. 2017.

H.N. Schwerdt, M.J. Kim, S. Amemori, D. Homma, T. Yoshida, H. Shimazu, H. Yerramreddy, E. Karasan, R. Langer, A.M. Graybiel, and M. J. Cima, “Subcellular probes for neurochemical recording from multiple brain sites,” Lab Chip, vol. 17, no. 6, pp. 1104–1115, March 2017. [PMID: 28233001]