Catherine Christian

Profile picture for Catherine Christian

Contact Information

523 Medical Sciences Building
Assistant Professor, Molecular and Integrative Physiology

Research Interests

Epilepsy, Neurobiology, Synaptic Transmission, Ion Channels, Neuroendocrinology, Cellular Excitability

Research Description

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. 


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


National Institutes of Health

Whitehall Foundation

Brain and Behavior Research Foundation

Brain Research Foundation

Citizens United for Research in Epilepsy

Awards and Honors

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

Courses Taught

MCB 401 - Cell and Membrane Physiology

Additional Campus Affiliations

Beckman Institute

Neuroscience Program

Recent Publications

Adams, C., Anthony Defazio, R., Christian, C., Milescu, L. S., Schnell, S., & Moenter, S. M. (2019). Changes in both neuron intrinsic properties and neurotransmission are needed to drive the increase in gnrh neuron firing rate during estradiol-positive feedback. Journal of Neuroscience, 39(11), 2091-2101.

Courtney, C. D., & Christian, C. (2019). Inhibition Gets a New KAR Smell. Epilepsy Currents, 19(3), 187-189.

Ujjainwala, A. L., Courtney, C. D., Wojnowski, N. M., Rhodes, J. S., & Christian, C. (2019). Differential impacts on multiple forms of spatial and contextual memory in diazepam binding inhibitor knockout mice. Journal of Neuroscience Research, 97(6), 683-697.

Christian, C. (2018). Persistent protection against pathology and paroxysms by P2X7R antagonism. Epilepsy Currents, 18(1), 42-44.

Christian, C. (2018). The perils of generalizing about GABA in seizure generalization. Epilepsy Currents, 18(2), 113-114.

View all publications on Illinois Experts