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Senior Investigator

Leonardo Belluscio, Ph.D.

Developmental Neural Plasticity Section


Building 35 Room 3A-116
35 Convent Drive MSC3703
Bethesda MD 20892-3703
Office: (301) 496-4898
Lab: (301) 435-4643
Fax: (301) 435-4959
belluscl@ninds.nih.gov

Dr. Belluscio received his B.S. from Manhattan College and his Ph.D. from Columbia University where he studied the molecular and cellular organization of the mammalian olfactory system with Richard Axel. He then went on to do post-doctoral training with Larry Katz at Duke University, where he investigated the functional and anatomical organization of the olfactory bulb using various imaging techniques. Dr. Belluscio joined NINDS as an investigator in 2002. His laboratory now combines molecular and functional techniques to study olfactory neural plasticity associated with circuit development and its repair following disruption.



My Laboratory conducts research to understand the principles and mechanisms that underlie neural plasticity and regeneration in the brain. Using the mammalian olfactory system as a model the laboratory focuses on four main goals: (1) identification of neural circuits within the olfactory system that exhibit functional plasticity; (2) determining the molecular and functional mechanisms that govern olfactory based plasticity; (3) understanding the relationship between plasticity and the capacity for repair of olfactory circuits; and (4) establishing the role of sensory induced activity on the restoration of neural circuits. Our research is multidisciplinary including biochemistry, molecular biology and electrophysiology as well as in vivo imaging, optogenetic and behavioral techniques all combined with genetically engineered mice. Given the connection between olfactory dysfunction and neurological disease such as Alzheimer's disease and Parkinson's disease, this work also has a strong translational focus.


Olfactory Bulb Postnatal Development

Postnatal developmental refinement of olfactory bulb circuitry.  Fluorescent confocal images captured from the olfactory bulbs of (OMP-GFP/ Thy1-YFPg) compound transgenic mice at different ages (3-day, 5-day, 10-day, and 3 weeks).

Postnatal developmental refinement of olfactory bulb circuitry. Fluorescent confocal images captured from the olfactory bulbs of (OMP-GFP/ Thy1-YFPg) compound transgenic mice at different ages (3-day, 5-day, 10-day, and 3 weeks). The images show axons from Olfactory Receptor Neurons (Green) coalescing to interact with dendrites from Mitral Cells (Red) as the olfactory bulb layers separate and glomeruli gradually emerge.

Staff Image
  • Li Bai
    Research Assistant
    (301) 435-4643

  • Claire Cheetham
    Postdoctoral Fellow

  • Kai Cheng
    Special Volunteer
    (301) 435-4643

  • Ning Cheng
    Postdoctoral Fellow
    (301) 435-4637

  • Diana Cummings
    Postdoctoral Fellow
    (301) 435-4648

  • Una Park
    Postdoctoral Fellow
    (301) 435-4647

  • Amit Sethi
    Special Volunteer
    (301) 435-4643

  • Elizabeth Steuer
    Research Assistant
    (301) 435-4643

  • Zhishang Zhou
    Research Associate
    (301) 435-4643

  • 1) Cheng K, Bai L, Belluscio L. (2011)
  • Fas-associated factor 1 as a regulator of olfactory axon guidance.
  • J Neurosci., Aug 17;31(33), 11905-13
  • 2) Cheng N, Cai H, Belluscio L. (2011)
  • In Vivo Olfactory Model of APP-Induced Neurodegeneration Reveals a Reversible Cell-Autonomous Function.
  • J Neurosci., Sep 28;31(39), 13699-704.
  • 3) Cummings DM, Belluscio L. (2010)
  • Continuous neural plasticity in the olfactory intrabulbar circuitry.
  • J Neurosci. , Jul 7;30(27):, 9172-80
  • 4) Chuang KH, Lee JH, Silva AC, Belluscio L, Koretsky AP (2009)
  • Manganese enhanced MRI reveals functional circuitry in response to odorant stimuli
  • Neuroimage, Jan 15;44(2), 363-72
  • 5) Chuang KH, Lee JH, Silva AC, Belluscio L, Koretsky AP (2009)
  • Manganese enhanced MRI reveals functional circuitry in response to odorant stimuli
  • Neuroimage, 44(2), 363-72
  • 6) Zhou Z, Belluscio L. (2008)
  • Intrabulbar projecting external tufted cells mediate a timing-based mechanism that dynamically gates olfactory bulb output.
  • J Neurosci. , Oct 1;28(40), 9920-8
  • 7) Nguyen MQ, Zhou Z, Marks CA, Ryba NJ, Belluscio L. (2007)
  • Prominent roles for odorant receptor coding sequences in allelic exclusion.
  • Cell., Nov 30, 131(5):, 1009-17
  • 8) Kerr MA, Belluscio L. (2006)
  • Olfactory experience accelerates glomerular refinement in the mammalian olfactory bulb.
  • Nat Neurosci., Apr;9(4):, 484-6
  • 9) Lodovichi C, Belluscio L, Katz LC (2003)
  • Functional topography of connections linking mirror-symmetric maps in the mouse olfactory bulb
  • Neuron
  • 10) Belluscio L, Lodovichi C, Feinstein P, Mombaerts P, Katz LC. (2002)
  • Odorant receptors instruct functional circuitry in the mouse olfactory bulb.
  • Nature, 419, 296-300
  • 11) Belluscio L, Katz LC. (2001)
  • Symmetry, stereotypy, and topography of odorant representations in mouse olfactory bulbs.
  • J Neurosci , 21, 2113-22
  • 12) Herve D, Le Moine C, Corvol JC, Belluscio L, Ledent C, Fienberg AA, Jaber M, Studler JM, Girault JA (2001)
  • Galpha(old) levels are regulated by receptor usage and control dopamine and adenosine action in the striatum.
  • J Neurosci
  • 13) Zhuang X, Belluscio L, Hen R. (2000)
  • G(olf)alpha mediates dopamine D1 receptor signaling.
  • J Neurosci , 20, RC91
  • 14) Belluscio L, Koentges G, Axel R, Dulac C. (1999)
  • A map of pheromone receptor activation in the mammalian brain.
  • Cell, 97, 209-20
  • 15) Belluscio L, Gold GH, Nemes A, Axel R. (1998)
  • Mice deficient in G(olf) are anosmic.
  • Neuron, 20, 69-81
  • 16) maisonpierre PC, Belluscio L, Conover JC, Yancopoulos GD (1992)
  • Gene sequences of chicken BDNF and NT-3
  • DNA Seq
  • 17) Ip NY, Ibanez CF, Nye SH, McClain J, Jones PF, Gies DR, Belluscio L, Le Beau MM, Espinosa R 3rd, Squinto SP, et al (1992)
  • Mammalian neurotrophin-4: structure, chromosomal localization, tissue distribution, and receptor specificity
  • Proc Natl Acad Sci USA
  • 18) Maisonpierre PC, Le Beau MM, Espinosa R 3rd, Ip NY, Belluscio L, de la Monte SM, Squinto S, Furth ME, Yancopoulos GD (1991)
  • Human and rat brain-derived neurotrophic factor and neurotrophin-3: gene structures, distributions, and chromosomal localizations
  • Genomics
  • 19) Maisonpierre PC, Belluscio L, Squinto S, Ip NY, Furth ME, Lindsay RM, Yancopoulos GD. (1990)
  • Neurotrophin-3: a neurotrophic factor related to NGF and BDNF.
  • Science.
  • 20) Yancopoulos GD, Maisonpierre PC, Ip NY, Aldrich TH, Belluscio L, Boulton TG, Cobb MH, Squinto SP, Furth ME (1990)
  • Neurotrophic factors, their receptors, and the signal transduction pathways they activate
  • Cold Spring Harb Symp Quant Biol
  • 21) Maisonpierre PC, Belluscio L, Friedman B, Alderson RF, Wiegand SJ, Furth ME, Lindsay RM, Yancopoulos GD (1990)
  • NT-3, BDNF, and NGF in the developing rat nervous system: parallel as well as reciprocal patterns of expression
  • Neuron
  • 22) Grimberg J, Maguire S, Belluscio L (1989)
  • A simple method for the preparation of plasmid and chromosomal E. coli DNA
  • Nucleic Acids Res
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