Principal Investigator

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Larry Young

Larry Young is Director of the Center for Translational Social Neuroscience (CTSN) & the Silvio O. Conte Center for Oxytocin and Social Cognition at Emory University.  He heads the Division of Behavioral Neuroscience and Psychiatric Disorders at Yerkes National Primate Center, and is William P. Timmie Professor of Psychiatry at Emory School of Medicine.  Dr. Young also directs the Center for Social Neural Networks in Japan.  Dr. Young’s research focuses on the evolution and neural circuit mechanisms underlying social relationships, and the translation of those mechanisms into treatments to improve social function in psychiatric disorders such as autism. His work has identified roles for oxytocin and vasopressin in mediating social bonding and empathy in prairie voles.
He is the author of The Chemistry Between Us: Love, Sex, and the Science of Attraction explores the latest discoveries of how brain chemistry influences all aspects of our relationships with others. 

Email: lyoun03@emory.edu

Research Associates

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Kiyoshi Inoue

Emory Neuroscience
Graduate Program

Kiyoshi joined the Young lab as a post-doc in November 2007 after conducting research at Osaka Bioscience Institute, Osaka University and Nagoya City University in Japan. His research interest is to elucidate the molecular mechanisms and brain networks involved in social attachment behavior and also in the onset of mental disorders that occur when brain functioning is impaired. Specifically, he focuses on oxytocin signaling and its cross-talk with other molecules in the prairie vole brain and on how they affect social attachment behavior in monogamous animals.

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Aurelie Menigoz

As a research associate, Aurelie is primarily focusing on the impact of environmental factors on child mental health. Specifically, she focuses on the long-term effects of early life insults on the development of executive function.  To this end, she models lifestyle factors caused by socio-economic circumstances, such as over exposure to added sugars in infant diet or household chaos, and uses a combination of molecular biology, electrophysiology and behavior. Due to the addition of high fructose corn syrup to processed food and beverages, infants have the highest level of fructose consumption when normalized to body weight. She uses an indirect maternal exposure model to investigate how dietary fructose during infancy affects executive function development through the perturbation of the neuronal activity and metabolism regulating pathways in the basolateral amygdala. During my graduate studies, she investigated the role of TRP channels in hippocampal learning and memory using high throughput neuronal activity recording in rodents (KU Leuven, Belgium) and received a Masters degree in Molecular and Cellular Biology from the Ecole Normale Superieure (Lyon, France).

Postdoctoral Fellows

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Arjen Boender

Arjen’s research in the Young Lab focuses on the genetic regulation of Oxtr expression in the nucleus accumbens (NAC); a brain region that is heavily implicated in social reward. In the prairie vole, individual variation in NAc Oxtr expression gives rise to differences in social behaviors (e.g., pair bonding and paternal behaviors) and is controlled by a strong genetic component. He uses AAV-CRISPR/Cas9 and state-of-the-art sequencing approaches to functionally characterize the molecular mechanisms that govern individual variation in Oxtr expression in the prairie vole. As the linkage of genetic variation to mental illness has been difficult, elucidation of this complex genotype-phenotype relation is relevant to the understanding of the etiologies of psychiatric disorders. 

He has obtained a PhD in Neuroscience at Utrecht University in 2015 by studying obesogenic neural circuitries. Subsequently, he moved to the Italian Institute of Technology in Genova where he did a postdoctoral project on the astrocytic regulation of the glutamate transporter EAAT2 to shape behavioral flexibility. He joined the Young lab in 2018 as a post-doc to become proficient in AAV-CRISPR/Cas9 and sequencing strategies. His main research interest is to understand how genetic mechanisms give rise to behavioral diversity.  

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Amelie Borie

Amelie obtained a masters in Neurobiology and Endocrinology and a PhD in Neuroscience from the University of Montpellier in France. She is interested in understanding how social experiences shape the social brain neural network and how this influences the expression of social behavior.  In 2018, she joined the Young lab and the Liu lab. Currently, using behavior, slice electrophysiology and in vivo pharmacology, she investigates how social experience influences oxytocin mode of action and the behavioral implications in the socially monogamous prairie vole.  

Twitter: @AmelieBorie 

LinkedIn 

Google scholar

Orcid

Kengo Horie

Kengo is interested in how genes and neural circuits regulate social and pro-social behaviors in prairie voles. Specifically, his research focuses on how oxytocin/oxytocin receptor (Oxt/Oxtr) and vasopressin/vasopressin receptor (Avp/Avpr) genes regulate neural circuits relating to pair bonding and consoling behavior in prairie voles. He developed assisted reproductive technologies (ARTs) for prairie voles and generated genetically modified prairie voles (Oxtr knockout, Avpr1a KO, Oxtr Cre knockin, etc.) by using CRISPR/Cas genome editing. He investigates behavioral and neural deficiencies of knockout animals, manipulates and records brain activities with chemogenetics and fiber photometry to understand Oxt/Oxtr and Avp/Avpr systems in prairie voles. He also works on establishing highly efficient ARTs for prairie voles.

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Megan Warren

Megan received her PhD at the University of Delaware in 2020. Her graduate work focused on assessing the role of ultrasonic vocalizations as a means of communication between mice, and whether this role was modified in mouse models of autism spectrum disorders. As a post-doctoral fellow, she is expanding her prior work to assess the role of ultrasonic vocalizations in the prairie vole. Her interests include determining how these sounds are used across the experience of pair bonding, as well as whether the oxytocin system is involved in the neural processing of these signals.

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Hong Zhu

Hong’s research interest is to understand the neural circuitry mechanisms of pair bonding in prairie voles. Previous studies have demonstrated critical roles of oxytocin (OT)/arginine vasopressin (AVP) and dopamine signaling in pair-bonding. Taking advantage of fiber photometry technology, she’s going to reveal the moment-to-moment Ca2+ dynamics in the nucleus accumbens (NAc) and also dopamine release in the mesolimbic pathway when animals are interacting with partners during cohabitation. Modulation of the oxytocin system on NAc neural activity in cohabitation and mesolimbic DA release will be further investigated.

She received her PhD from the Institute of Neuroscience, Chinese Academy of Science under supervision of Dr. Hailan Hu, and worked on neural circuitry of social dominance in mice. Now she is co-mentored by Dr. Larry Young and Dr. Robert Liu as a post-doc, after joining the team at Yerkes National Primate Research Center at Emory University in the year 2019. She hopes that her research can help to promote our understanding of neural mechanism underlying pair bonding!

Graduate Students

Sarah Blumenthal

Sarah is a 3rd year Neuroscience Ph.D. student who joined the Young Lab in 2020. Prior to starting at Emory, she received a B.A. from Wake Forest University in Psychology and German and a M.S. in Experimental Psychology from William & Mary. She is interested in using prairie voles as a novel model organism to study social cognition. Her work focuses primarily on the role of the insular cortex and oxytocin in pair bonding and consoling behaviors.

Sena Agezo

Sena is a fourth-year Neuroscience PhD student working jointly in the labs of Drs. Robert Liu, Gordon Berman and Larry Young at Emory University. His research focuses on understanding how the oxytocin system in the striatum influences the neurophysiological mechanisms in behaviors such as social attachment. He is also interested in using machine learning to elucidate the subtle behavioral differences that emerge as a result of social bond formation. He obtained his Master and Bachelor of Science degrees in Biomedical Engineering at Drexel University. He spent some time in industry working with Abbott Point of Care as a project engineer.

Charlie Ford

Originally from Clearwater, FL, Charlie graduated from Davidson College with a BS in Neuroscience in 2012 and began a combined MD-PhD program at Emory in 2015. He joined the Young lab in 2018, where his dissertation work focuses on testing how a novel pharmaceutical, Melanotan II, causes endogenous oxytocin release and activates parts of the brain that process social information. Melanotan II or a similar drug could one day be paired with behavioral therapy for autism to pharmacologically enhance the efficacy of the behavioral therapy. He is also collaborating with other members of the lab to examine if prairie voles exhibit “jealousy,” or a perceived social threat to an exclusive bond. When not in the lab, he spends his free time spoiling his dog, growing coral in an aquarium, and traveling to places with beaches.
 

Staff

Lorra Julian

Lorra came to Emory in 1999 after receiving a Bachelor of Arts in Biology from the University of West Georgia. As a Psychology minor, with much interest in human as well as animal social interaction, she hoped to eventually find a position combining her interest in physical and social science with her love of animals. She spent three and a half years in an Immunology laboratory honing her molecular biology skills and managing a large transgenic mouse colony. She received the opportunity to join the Young Laboratory in July 2002. She is responsible for the management and genotyping of rodent colonies, while acting as a liaison between the lab and Yerkes Veterinary/Animal Care staff.

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Zakia Sathi

Sathi is a Research Specialist in the Larry Young’s Lab at Emory University. She grew up in Bangladesh and received Ph.D. from Fukui University School of Medicine, Japan. Her research focused on drug development and the underlying neurobiology of stress, depression, social behavior, and fear over the years. She is interested in understanding how oxytocin can change social behavior, including recognizing emotions in others. After graduating from Japan, she moved to Bangladesh and taught pharmaceutical and medical sciences in the Department of Pharmacy, Daffodil International University. In the Winship Cancer Institute at Emory University, she worked to develop an RRM1 inhibitor as a drug for cancer treatment.

Alumni

Research Associate Faculty

Post-Docs

Graduate Students