Leonardo Belluscio, Ph.D.

Senior Investigator

Developmental Neural Plasticity Section


Building 35, Room 3A-116
35 Convent Drive
Bethesda, MD 20892-3703



Research Topics

My Laboratory conducts research to understand the principles and mechanisms that underlie neural plasticity and regeneration in the brain. Using the mammalian olfactory system as a model the laboratory focuses on four main goals: (1) identification of neural circuits within the olfactory system that exhibit functional plasticity; (2) determining the molecular and functional mechanisms that govern olfactory based plasticity; (3) understanding the relationship between plasticity and the capacity for repair of olfactory circuits; and (4) establishing the role of sensory induced activity on the restoration of neural circuits. Our research is multidisciplinary including biochemistry, molecular biology and electrophysiology as well as in vivo imaging, optogenetic and behavioral techniques all combined with genetically engineered mice. Given the connection between olfactory dysfunction and neurological disease such as Alzheimer's disease and Parkinson's disease, this work also has a strong translational focus.


Dr. Belluscio received his B.S. from Manhattan College and his Ph.D. from Columbia University where he studied the molecular and cellular organization of the mammalian olfactory system with Richard Axel. He then went on to do post-doctoral training with Larry Katz at Duke University, where he investigated the functional and anatomical organization of the olfactory bulb using various imaging techniques. Dr. Belluscio joined NINDS as an investigator in 2002. His laboratory now combines molecular and functional techniques to study olfactory neural plasticity associated with circuit development and its repair following disruption.

Selected Publications

  1. Cheetham CE, Park U, Belluscio L. Rapid and continuous activity-dependent plasticity of olfactory sensory input. Nat Commun. 2016;7:10729.

  2. Cheng N, Jiao S, Gumaste A, Bai L, Belluscio L. APP Overexpression Causes Aβ-Independent Neuronal Death through Intrinsic Apoptosis Pathway. eNeuro. 2016;3(4).

  3. Cummings DM, Snyder JS, Brewer M, Cameron HA, Belluscio L. Adult neurogenesis is necessary to refine and maintain circuit specificity. J Neurosci. 2014;34(41):13801-10.

  4. Saar G, Cheng N, Belluscio L, Koretsky AP. Laminar specific detection of APP induced neurodegeneration and recovery using MEMRI in an olfactory based Alzheimer's disease mouse model. Neuroimage. 2015;118:183-92.

  5. Zhou Z, Belluscio L. Coding odorant concentration through activation timing between the medial and lateral olfactory bulb. Cell Rep. 2012;2(5):1143-50.

This page was last updated on May 2nd, 2017