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William C. Friday Distinguished Chair and Professor

Dr. Ben Bahr
Duke-UNC Alzheimer's Disease Research Collaborative
Duke-UNC Alzheimer's Disease Research Collaborative

The Duke-UNC Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center aims to catalyze research, innovations in clinical care and academic work force development with UNC Pembroke as a partner institution

Hippocampal slice

The Amazing Brain and How it Strives to Fight Off Dementia and Injuries

The >500,000 gigabyte hard drive floating in your skull is a huge challenge to study, the brain being the most complicated memory-encoding machine known. In the Bahr Lab, slices of brain tissue are kept alive for months to examine neuronal connections responsible for memory and synaptic maintenance. Dr. Bahr leads the Alzheimer’s Disease Research Lab at UNC-Pembroke, integrating brain explant disease models with transgenic mouse models to study different dementias and their related risk factors including aging-linked neuronal stress, seizure events, and military blast exposures. The research combines cell signaling, bioinformatics, and biomarker identification methods to understand the pathogenic cascades underlying synaptic decline and the mild cognitive impairment to dementia continuum. His Ph.D. from University of California–Santa Barbara identified a target for the diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease, the most common form of dementia. Dr. Bahr’s postdoctoral training on memory mechanisms and aging was at the Center for the Neurobiology of Learning and Memory, University of California–Irvine. His honors include the Governor James Holshouser Award for Excellence in Public Service and several mentoring awards for working with postdocs, graduate students, and valuable undergraduate members of his group who have been awarded NSF, Glaxo Women in Science, NCBiotech, and NC Space/NASA Scholarships. He has presented his research in 16 countries and has over 150 publications and patents. His research team works to reduce the devastating consequences of dementia. They direct their efforts towards dementia and related risk factors in the UNCP Biotechnology Research Center. They study the synaptic pathology associated with the protein accumulation stress of Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, and other dementias, as well as the enhanced vulnerability stemming from seizures and blast-induced neurotrauma, all to identify endogenous self-repair mechanisms and novel therapeutic strategies.


Members of the William C. Friday Laboratory

  • Ben A. Bahr, Ph.D. (PI; Depts. of Biology and Chemistry & Physics)
  • Karen Farizatto, Ph.D. (Research Associate)
  • Michael Almeida, M.S.  (Research Specialist)
  • Minh Huy Giang; Chemistry - pre-health chemistry 
  • Jared Tuton (NASA/NC Space Grant Scholar & NIH RISE Fellow)
  • Mercedes Dos Santos; Biology
  • Jessalyn Nguyen; Biology
  • Sidney Clayman (NASA/NC Space Grant Scholar & NIH RISE Fellow)
  • Mark Yorio; Biomedical               
  • Naomi Fountain; Biology (Honors College Project)          
  • Kinsley Adams; Biology
  • Irayza Grijalva; Biology
  • Morgana Viana; Biology 
  • Ashley Edwards; Biology (NASA/NC Space Grant Scholar)
  • Haleigh Wooters; Biology​​​​​​​
  • Jordan Locklear; Biology

Recent Publications (from list of 155) 

(click here for publications available via NCBI)

Almeida MF, Piehler T, Carstens KE, Zhao M, Samadi M, Dudek SM, Norton CJ, Parisian CM, Farizatto KLG, and Bahr BA (2021) Distinct and dementia-related synaptopathy in the hippocampus after military blast exposures. Brain Pathology 31:e12936.

Caba E, Sherman MD, Farizatto KLG, Alcira B, Wang H-W, Giardina C, Shin D-G, Sandefur CI, and Bahr BA (2021) Excitotoxic stimulation activates distinct pathogenic and protective expression signatures in the hippocampus. J Cell Mol Medicine 00:1–17.

Almeida MF, Bahr BA, and Kinsey ST (2020) Endosomal-lysosomal dysfunction in metabolic diseases and Alzheimer’s disease. Internatl Review Neurobiol 154:303-324.

Telpoukhovskaia MA, Liu K, Sayed FA, Iker Etchegaray J, Xie M, Zhan L, Li Y, Zhou Y, Le D, Bahr BA, Bogyo M, Ding S, and Gan L (2020) Discovery of small molecules that normalize the transcriptome and enhance cysteine cathepsin activity in progranulin-deficient microglia. Scientific Reports 10:13688. 

Farizatto KLG, Almeida MF, Long RT, and Bahr BA (2019) Early synaptic alterations and selective adhesion signaling in hippocampal dendritic zones following organophosphate exposure. Scientific Reports 9:6532.(

Hwang J, Estick CM, Ikonne US, Butler D, Pait MC, Elliott LH, Ruiz S, Smith K, Rentschler KM, Mundell C, Almeida MF, Stumbling Bear N, Locklear JP, Abumohsen Y, Ivey CM, Farizatto KLG, and Bahr BA (2019) The role of lysosomes in a broad disease-modifying approach evaluated across transgenic mouse models of Alzheimer's disease and Parkinson's disease and models of mild cognitive impairment. International J Mol Sci 20:4432.    **In Special Issue Biogenesis and Functional Roles of Lysosomes: Their Implications for the Pathogenesis and Therapy of Human Diseases.   LINK 

Kakoki M, Bahnson EM, Hagaman JR, Siletzky RM, Grant R, Kayashima Y, Li F, Lee EY, Sun MT, Taylor JM, Rice JC, Almeida MF, Bahr BA, Jennette JC, Smithies O, and Maeda-Smithies N (2019) Engulfment and cell motility protein 1 potentiates diabetic cardiomyopathy via Rac-dependent and Rac-independent ROS production. J Clin Invest Insight 4:e127660. LINK

Lamani M, Malamas MS, Farah SI, Shukla VG, Almeida MF, Weerts CM, Anderson J, Wood JT, Farizatto KLG, Bahr BA, and Makriyannis A (2019) Piperidine and piperazine inhibitors of fatty acid amide hydrolase targeting excitotoxic pathology. Bioorganic Med Chem 27:115096.

Wang C, Telpoukhovskaia MA, Bahr BA, Chen X, and Gan L (2018) Endo-lysosomal dysfunction: a converging mechanism in neurodegenerative diseases. Current Opinion Neurobiol 48:52-58. LINK

Farizatto KLG, Ikonne US, Almeida MF, Ferrari MFR, and Bahr BA (2017) Aβ42-mediated proteasome inhibition and associated tau pathology in hippocampus are governed by a lysosomal response involving cathepsin B: Evidence for protective crosstalk between protein clearance pathways. PLoS ONE 12:e0182895. LINK

Farizatto KLG, McEwan SA, Naidoo V, Nikas SP, Shukla VG, Almeida MF, Byrd A, Romine H, Karanian DA, Makriyannis A, and Bahr BA (2017) Inhibitor of endocannabinoid deactivation protects against in vitro and in vivo neurotoxic effects of paraoxon. J Mol Neuroscience 63:115-122. LINK

Carrasco DI, Bahr BA, Seburn KL, and Pinter MJ (2016) Abnormal response of distal Schwann cells to denervation in a mouse model of motor neuron disease. Exp Neurol 278:116-126. LINK

Smith M, Piehler T, Benjamin R, Farizatto KL, Pait MC, Almeida MF, Ghukasyan VV, and Bahr BA (2016) Blast waves from detonated RDX explosive reduce GluR1 and synaptophysin levels in hippocampal slice cultures. Exp Neurol 286:107-115. LINK

Maltecca F, Baseggio E, Consolato F, Mazza D, Podini P, Young SM Jr, Drago I, Bahr BA, Puliti A,  Codazzi F, Quattrini A, and Casari G (2015) Purkinje neuron Ca2+ influx reduction rescues ataxia in the spinocerebellar ataxia type 28 (SCA28) model. J Clin Invest 125:263-274. LINK

Naidoo V, Karanian DA, Vadivel SK, Locklear JR, Wood JT, Nasr M, Quizon PMP, Graves EE, Shukla V, Makriyannis A, and Bahr BA (2012) Equipotent inhibition of fatty acid amide hydrolase and monoacylglycerol lipase – dual targets of the endocannabinoid system to protect against seizure pathology. Neurotherapeutics 9:801-813. LINK

Viswanathan K, Hoover DJ, Hwang J, Wisniewski ML, Ikonne US, Bahr BA, and Wright DL (2012) Nonpeptidic lysosomal modulators derived from Z-Phe-Ala-diazomethylketone for treating protein accumulation diseases. ACS Med Chem Lett 3:920-924.  LINK

Previous Undergraduate Researchers (RISE Fellows*; COMPASS Scholars#):

  • Joanna Cooper* (NCBC Fellow)
  • Hollie Young* (Gordon Conference Carl Storm Fellow)
  • David Blake
  • Emily Graves* 
  • Christopher Visser
  • Rebecca Howell* (NCBC Fellow)
  • Daisy Irra*
  • Jasmine Robinson*
  • Sarah Gambrel*
  • Josie Torrence*
  • Vivian Anunobi*
  • Arieana Van Allen 
  • Tyler Loehr*
  • Katharine Willoughby (Hawk Fellow)
  • Jody Long
  • Jasmine Rowlett*
  • Ginny Holland
  • Thomas Romine (Research & Engineering Apprenticeship)
  • John Locklear*
  • Pamela Marie Quizon (Research Assistant)   
  • Davita Brockington   
  • Ye Lin (undergrad research assistant)
  • Elizabeth Metzger (NC Space Grant/NASA Scholar)           
  • Robert Baldi
  • Kassie Conway*
  • Jordon Smink*
  • Louis Leonard
  • Paul Freeman*
  • M. Tyler Bullock (Research Engineering Apprenticeship) Robeson Early College Student
  • Sarah Ruiz* (NC Space Grant/NASA Scholar) 
  • Olivia Bullard* (Glaxo Scholar Women in Science) 
  • Marsalis Smith*
  • Armando Corona*
  • Julia McGee*
  • Samantha Suggs 
  • Rebecca Jackson
  • Veronica Robles
  • Kassie Conway*
  • Emily Suzanne Pope
  • Kayla J. Oxendine
  • Sonny Ruiz
  • Chaterria Perry*
  • Darian Duval
  • Joshua Ellerbe
  • Benson Mbugua
  • Kathlyn Stephens (PURC Research Fellow)    
  • Morgan C. Pait*
  • Lyndsie Elliott
  • Justin Showers
  • Matt MacDougall
  • Dalton Brooks
  • Christopher Long*
  • Justin Floyd
  • Marcus Sherman*
  • Ziporia Swift*
  • Aaron Byrd*
  • Sara A. McEwan*
  • Marilyn Louise Knotts
  • Paul J. Lascuna*#
  • Melissa Teel
  • Hailey Kelbaugh* (PURC Research Fellow)
  • Amanda Taylor
  • Amanda Bowman
  • Jasmine Sanderson
  • Kaitlan Smith; COMPASS Scholar and Summer Rise Scholar
  • Ronald Long; Summer Rise Scholar
  • Michael Joe Blair
  • Victor Cole
  • Sports Tweede
  • Katelynn Jacobs
  • Iliana Claudio; Robeson Early College (Senior Internship)
  • Ayanna Edwards*
  • Alyssa Norton
  • Camille Colvin
  • Ross Masters
  • Yara Abumohsen
  • Swathi Gadi
  • Nathan Jennings
  • Brenna Sifford
  • Frederick Feely II
  • Jullienne Lim;  (Honors College)
  • Jessica Rice
  • Christopher Norton; Summer Rise Scholar
  • Marica Thomas*
  • Britney Alcira
  • Georgian B Kailondo
  • Valerie A Odugba
  • Marianna Coppola
  • Aseel Abumohsen
  • Rawon Abumohsen
  • Asil Abudayeh
  • Sean Griffith
  • Taylor Williams
Hippocampal Slice

Current Funding

W911NF-15-1-0432 Dept. of Defense Research & Education Program
Research Grant: The role of astrocyte activation in anticholinesterase-induced synaptic changes and behavioral deficits.

Bahr-USANA2016 USANA Health Sciences, Inc.
Contract: Expanding the search for protein clearance enhancers to promote healthy brain aging.

W911NF-14-2-0087 U.S. Army Research Office (HBCU/MI Program)
Research Grant: Sensitive Indicators and Risk Factors of Blast-Induced Neurodegeneration

W911NF-15-1-0053 U.S. Army Research Office (DOD Program)
Facility Grant: UNC Pembroke Laser Scanning Confocal Microscopy Facility

Bahr - Lys Mod Coins for Alzheimer’s Research Trust
Research Grant: Positive CatB modulation for an effective treatment to slow Alzheimer’s disease.

Northeastern University collaboration: Alzheimer’s Drug Discovery Foundation
subcontract: Fatty acid amide hydrolase inhibitors as Alzheimer’s disease medications