Barry Kaplan, Ph.D.

Senior Investigator

Office of the Scientific Director


Silvio O. Conte Building (Building 49), Room B1B80
49 Convent Drive
Bethesda, MD 20814


Research Topics

Dr. Kaplan is interested in the subcellular compartmentation of neuronal gene expression, specifically the composition, trafficking and function of the mRNA populations present in the axon and presynaptic nerve terminal and the role played by micro RNAs in the regulation of the local protein synthetic systems. Recent work employed primary sympathetic neurons cultured in Campenot multicompartment chambers as a model mammalian neuronal system. It is hypothesized that key elements of the cytomatrix, axon transport system, translation apparatus and proteins needed to maintain mitochondrial activity are synthesized locally in the axon, and that the local synthesis of protein plays a key role in neuronal development, regeneration and plasticity.


Dr. Kaplan received his B.A. and M.S. degrees from Hofstra University and his Ph.D. degree in cellular and developmental biology from Cornell University. After completing postdoctoral training in molecular neurobiology at the Andrus Gerontology Center, University of Southern California, he joined the faculty of the Department of Anatomy and Cell Biology of the Cornell University Medical College. In 1983, he moved to the Western Psychiatric Institute and Clinic, University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, where he became Director of the Molecular Neurobiology and Genetics Program. In 1996, he relocated to the NIMH as Associate Director of Fellowship Training in the Division of Intramural Research and held that position until 2013, after which he focused on his research laboratory, which studied the subcellular compartmentation of neuronal gene expression. Dr. Kaplan is no longer accepting trainees.

Selected Publications

  1. Aschrafi A, Gioio AE, Dong L, Kaplan BB. Disruption of the Axonal Trafficking of Tyrosine Hydroxylase mRNA Impairs Catecholamine Biosynthesis in the Axons of Sympathetic Neurons. eNeuro. 2017;4(3).

  2. Kar AN, Vargas JNS, Chen CY, Kowalak JA, Gioio AE, Kaplan BB. Molecular determinants of cytochrome C oxidase IV mRNA axonal trafficking. Mol Cell Neurosci. 2017;80:32-43.

  3. Aschrafi A, Kar AN, Natera-Naranjo O, MacGibeny MA, Gioio AE, Kaplan BB. MicroRNA-338 regulates the axonal expression of multiple nuclear-encoded mitochondrial mRNAs encoding subunits of the oxidative phosphorylation machinery. Cell Mol Life Sci. 2012;69(23):4017-27.

  4. Gervasi NM, Scott SS, Aschrafi A, Gale J, Vohra SN, MacGibeny MA, Kar AN, Gioio AE, Kaplan BB. The local expression and trafficking of tyrosine hydroxylase mRNA in the axons of sympathetic neurons. RNA. 2016;22(6):883-95.

  5. Kar AN, Sun CY, Reichard K, Gervasi NM, Pickel J, Nakazawa K, Gioio AE, Kaplan BB. Dysregulation of the axonal trafficking of nuclear-encoded mitochondrial mRNA alters neuronal mitochondrial activity and mouse behavior. Dev Neurobiol. 2014;74(3):333-50.

This page was last updated on January 17th, 2019