Catherine A Christian

Catherine  A Christian

523 Medical Sciences Building

Office: (217) 244-8230

Mail to: 524 Burrill Hall
407 S. Goodwin Ave
Urbana, IL 61801
Lab Page

Assistant Professor of Molecular and Integrative Physiology

Research Topics

Endocrinology, Ion Channels, Neurobiology, Synaptic Transmission


A.B. 2001 Smith College, Northampton, MA
Ph.D. 2007 University of Virginia, Charlottesville, VA
Postdoc 2008-2014 Stanford University School of Medicine, Stanford, CA

Teaching Interests

Cellular, synaptic, and circuit neurophysiology in neuroendocrinology and epilepsy

My laboratory explores research questions at the intersection of neuroscience, physiology, and endocrinology. We are particularly interested in the neural mechanisms linking epilepsy and comorbid reproductive endocrine disorders. Both women and men with temporal lobe epilepsy, the most common form of epilepsy seen in adults, show higher rates of reproductive endocrine disorders in comparison with the general population. Importantly, reproductive endocrine problems can reciprocally impact the severity of epilepsy seen and influence the choice and efficacy of anti-seizure treatments. We aim to understand how temporal lobe seizures impact the hypothalamic control of reproduction, and how altered hypothalamic function reciprocally affects seizure activity and epilepsy severity. Other ongoing areas of research in the lab include exploring the roles that astrocytes play in modulating synaptic transmission, and building on our recent finding of a male-specific reduction in social motivation in mice that lack the diazepam binding inhibitor peptide. We use several research techniques including patch clamp electrophysiology, optogenetics/chemogenetics, stereotactic surgeries, electroencephalography (EEG), viral vectors, neuroanatomy, and behavioral assays.


Brain Research Foundation Fay/Frank Seed Grant 2016-2018
Whitehall Foundation Research Grant, 2016-2019
NARSAD Young Investigator Grant, 2016-2018
Citizens United for Research in Epilepsy (CURE) Taking Flight Award, 2014
McCormick Advanced Postdoctoral Fellowship, Stanford School of Medicine, 2012
Epilepsy Foundation Fellowship, 2011
Endocrine Scholars Award, 2008
Peach Outstanding Graduate Student Award, University of Virginia, 2006
NIH National Research Service Award, 2005-2007
Fulbright Fellowship to Italy, 2001
Beckman Foundation Science Scholarship, 2000

Representative Publications

Ujjainwala AL, Courtney CD, Wojnowski NM, Rhodes JS, Christian CA (2019) Differential impacts on multiple forms of spatial and contextual memory in diazepam binding inhibitor knockout mice. J Neurosci Res 97:683-697

Li J, Robare JA, Gao L, Ghane MA, Flaws JA, Nelson ME, Christian CA (2018) Dynamic and sex-specific changes in gonadotropin-releasing hormone neuron activity and excitability in a mouse model of temporal lobe epilepsy. eNeuro 5:e0273-18.2018

Courtney CD, Christian CA (2018) Subregion-specific impacts of genetic loss of diazepam binding inhibitor on synaptic inhibition in the murine hippocampus. Neuroscience 388:128-138

Ujjainwala AL, Courtney CD, Rhoads SG, Rhodes JS, Christian CA (2018) Genetic loss of diazepam binding inhibitor in mice impairs social interest. Genes Brain Behav 17:e12442

Li J, Kim JS, Abejuela VA, Lamano JB, Klein NJ, Christian CA (2017) Disrupted female estrous cyclicity in the intrahippocampal kainic acid mouse model of temporal lobe epilepsy. Epilepsia Open, 2:39-47

Christian CA (2017) Neurophysiology of Gonadotropin-Releasing Hormone Neurons. In Hormones, Brain and Behavior, 3rd Edition, Pfaff, D.W. and Joƫls, M. (editors-in-chief), Oxford: Academic Press. Vol. 3, pp. 379-400

Christian CA, Huguenard JR (2013) Astrocytes potentiate GABAergic transmission in the thalamic reticular nucleus via endozepine signaling. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 110:20278-20283

Christian CA, Herbert AG, Holt RL, Peng K, Sherwood KD, Pangratz-Fuehrer S, Rudolph U, Huguenard JR (2013) Endogenous positive allosteric modulation of GABA(A) receptors by Diazepam binding inhibitor. Neuron, 78:1063-1074

Christian CA, Moenter SM (2007) Estradiol induces diurnal shifts in GABA transmission to gonadotropin-releasing hormone neurons to provide a neural signal for ovulation. J Neurosci 27:1913-1921

Christian CA, Mobley JL, Moenter SM (2005) Diurnal and estradiol-dependent changes in gonadotropin-releasing hormone neuron firing activity. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 102:15682-15687

Complete Publications List