Thanos Tzounopoulos, PhD
Biomedical Science Tower 3
3501 Fifth Avenue Room 10021
Pittsburgh, PA 15261
After earning his undergraduate degree in Biology from the University of Athens in Greece, Dr. Tzounopoulos came to the US as a Fulbright Scholar. He was awarded his Ph.D. in Molecular and Medical Genetics at Oregon Health and Science University in 1997. He then completed his postdoctoral research at the University of California at San Francisco; Vollum Institute and at the Oregon Hearing Research Center. Dr. Tzounopoulos was appointed as Assistant Professor at the Chicago Medical School in May 2006 and moved to University of Pittsburgh in November 2008.
Mechanisms of synaptic plasticity have traditionally been ascribed to higher-order sensory processing areas such as the cortex, whereas early sensory processing centers have been considered largely hard-wired. However, recent results from our lab and human studies have revealed remarkable evidence for cellular and behavioral mechanisms for learning and memory in early stages of sensory processing. We are investigating the cellular mechanisms underlying synaptic and intrinsic plasticity in sensory systems and in their role for normal and pathological sensory processing.
A second area of our research focuses on tinnitus and its underlying cellular mechanisms. The nervous system is plastic; expression of neural plasticity can lead to compensation for loss of function and adaptation to changing demands. However, plasticity-induced changes can also cause signs and symptoms of disease, such as tinnitus. Our goal is to understand the maladaptive plasticity mechanisms underlying the development and the establishment of tinnitus.
A third area of our research focuses on the circuit, synaptic and intrinsic mechanisms via which cortical (A1) projection neurons mediate top-down modulation of auditory processing in normal and disease states.
Li S., Choi V., and Tzounopoulos T (2013). Pathogenic Plasticity of Kv7.2/3 Channel Activity is Essential for the Induction of Tinnitus. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA (PNAS) 2013, In Press.
Perez-Rosello T., Anderson C., Schopfer F., Zhao Y., Gilad D., Salvatore S., Freeman B., Hershfinkel M., Aizenman E., and Thanos Tzounopoulos (2013). Synaptically Released Zn2+ Triggers Endocannabinoid Synthesis and Controls Synaptic Strength. J. of Neuroscience 2013, In Press.
Doiron B, Zhao Y, Tzounopoulos T. Combined LTP and LTD of Modulatory Inputs Controls Neuronal Processing of Primary Sensory Inputs (2011). J. of Neuroscience 2011 Jul 20;31(29):10579-92.
Jason W. Middleton,Taro Kiritani, Courtney Pedersen, Jeremy Turner, Gordon M. G. Shepherd, Thanos Tzounopoulos. Mice with Behavioral Evidence of Tinnitus Exhibit Dorsal Cochlear Nucleus Hyperactivity Due to Decreased GABAergic Inhibition (2011). Proc Natl Acad Sci USA (PNAS), 2011 May 3;108(18):7601-6.
Yanjun Zhao and Thanos Tzounopoulos. Physiological Activation of Cholinergic Inputs Controls Associative Synaptic Plasticity via Modulation of Endocannabinoid Signaling (2011). J. of Neuroscience 2011 Mar 2;31(9):3158-68
Thanos Tzounopoulos and Nina Kraus. Learning to Encode Timing: Mechanisms of Plasticity in the Auditory Brainstem (2009). Neuron, 2009 May 28; 62(4):463-9
Tzounopoulos T, Maria Rubio, John Keen and Larry Trussell (2007). Coactivation of Pre- and Postsynaptic Signaling Mechanisms Determines Cell-specific Spike Timing-Dependent Plasticity. Neuron, 54, 291-301 (2007).
In the News
Wall Street Journal: Finding the Pathways to a Cause of Tinnitus
Voice of America: Research Shows Tinnitus May Affect Brain Responses
National Public Radio: Study Finds Cause for Tinnitus