Vanderbilt University
Institute of Imaging Science

Nellie Byun, Ph.D

Research Instructor, Department of Radiology and Radiological Sciences

Contact Information
(615) 322-0385


My research interests include developing and applying pharmacologic MRI and behavioral techniques to characterize rodent models of neuropsychiatric disease; to elucidate the mechanisms of novel therapeutic targets; and to assess the neuromodulatory effects of drug treatments as well as the environment.


My current research focuses on pre-clinical pharmacologic MRI (phMRI) to assess the mechanism of selective muscarinic acetylcholine receptor (mAchR) and metabotropic glutamate receptor (mGluR) activation/potentiation in acute models of psychosis. Using contrast-enhanced cerebral blood volume phMRI, we are assessing regional brain responses of psychoactive compounds in these rodent models predictive of schizophrenia, the reversal of psychostimulant-driven brain activity by novel compounds with putative antipsychotic properties developed by colleagues at the Vanderbilt Program in Drug Discovery, and changes in functional connectivity. By tying phMRI with behavioral pharmacology strategies, including cognition assays, the goal of my research is to elucidate mechanisms underlying the effects of novel antipsychotic drugs with different molecular targets, study interactions between different neurotransmitter systems (neuromodulation), and differentiate the roles of specific mAchRs and mGluRs in the brain in order to find the best novel strategies for treating the positive, negative, and cognitive symptoms of schizophrenia, which are also applicable to Alzheimer's disease.


Hackler EA*, Byun NE*, Jones CK, Williams JM, Baheza R, Sengupta S, Grier MD, Avison M, Conn PJ, Gore JC. Selective potentiation of the metabotropic glutamate receptor subtype 2 blocks phencyclidine-induced brain activation. Neuroscience 2010, 168(1):209-18. *contributed equally

Geng Y, Byun N, Delpire E. 2010. Behavioral analysis of Ste20 kinase SPAK knockout mice. Behavioural Brain Research 2010, 208(2):377-82.

Sheffler DJ, Williams R, Bridges TM, Xiang Z, Kane AS, Byun NE, Jadhav S, Mock MM, Zheng F, Lewis LM, Jones CK, Niswender CM, Weaver CD, Lindsley CW, Conn PJ. Novel selective muscarinic acetylcholine receptor subtype 1 antagonist reduces seizures without impairing hippocampal-dependent learning. Molecular Pharmacology 2009, 76(2):356-68.

Byun N and Delpire E. Axon and periaxonal swelling precede peripheral neurodegeneration in KCC3 knockout mice. Neurobiology of Disease 2007, 28:39-51.

Howard HC, Mount DB, Rochefort D, Byun N, Dupré N, Lu J, Fan X, Song L, Rivière J -B, Prévost C, Welch R, England R, Zhan FQ, Mercado A, Siesser WB, George AL, Horst J, Simonati A, McDonald MP, Bouchard J-P, Mathieu J, Delpire E, Rouleau GA. The K-Cl cotransporter KCC3 is mutant in a severe peripheral neuropathy associated with agenesis of the corpus callosum. Nature Genetics 2002, 32:384-392.