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Florida Atlantic University & Max Planck Florida Institute - Integrative Biology and Neuroscience

Integrative Biology and Neuroscience Faculty - Dr. Rod Murphey


Dr. Rod Murphey

(561) 297-0384

Professor and Chair, Department of Biological Sciences
College of Science
Florida Atlantic University

Research Description

The primary focus of my lab is the development and degeneration of synapses in the central nervous system. Our primary goal is to understand synaptic plasticity and we combine molecular genetics, cellular neurophysiology and confocal microscopy to study these issues in model genetic systems. The tools we use include, lasers to ablate single neurons in living animals, genetics to manipulate neuronal circuits and a variety of electrophysiological methods to test synaptic function. Our primary focus in recent years has been to look at the function of axon guidance molecules and their new-found roles as synaptogenic molecules in Drosophila. One on-going project looks at netrin and its receptor frazzled and their roles in synaptogenesis. A second project examines the role of synaptic competition in the formation of neural circuits and the role of netrin in this process. A third series of experiments examines the regulation of these processs by protein modification such as ubiquitination and autophagy. Finally, as part of a larger collaborative project that includes a number of other FAU faculty who work on oxidative stress in the nervous system, we study the degeneration and death of DOPA cells under oxidative stress and the possible links to Parkinson's disease.

Research Interests

  • Molecular aspects of synapse formation
  • Synaptic plasticity
  • Synaptic competition


  • Ph.D., University of Oregon, Biology (1970)

Recent Publications

  • Godenschwege TA, Murphey RK. Genetic interaction of neuroglian and Semaphorin1a during guidance and synapse formation. J Neurogenet. (2009) 23:147-5
  • Uthaman, SB, Godenschwege, TA, Murphey, RK (2008). "The Drosophila ubiquitin conjugase Bendless: a developmental switch required for synaptic growth and maturation". J Neurosci. (2008) 28:8615-23
  • Allen, M.J. and Murphey, R.K. (2007). The chemical component of the mixed GF-TTMn synapse in Drosophila melanogaster uses acetylcholine as its neurotransmitter. Eur J Neurosci. (2007) 26(2):439-45
  • Godenschwege TA, Kristiansen LV, Uthaman SB, Hortsch M, Murphey RK. A conserved role for Drosophila Neuroglian and human L1-CAM in central-synapse formation. Curr Biol. (2006) 16(1):12-23.

IBAN Faculty List

FAU Campuses: Boca Raton/Davie/Dania Beach/Fort Lauderdale/Jupiter/Treasure Coast/Harbor Branch
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