Hunt, Robert Francis

Title(s)Assistant Professor, Anatomy and Neurobiology
Phone(949) 824-7079
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    Collapse Biography 
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    University of KentuckyPhD2010Physiology

    Collapse Overview 
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    Understanding the basic biology of the brain - how it develops and how it functions - remains one of the greatest challenges in science. Our work focuses largely on a group of nerve cells called inhibitory interneurons, the primary source of inhibition in the brain of most animals. We have discovered some of the ways in which disease-linked genes regulate the development and function of these cells and are beginning to learn how they operate at the circuit and behavioral level as well as in disorders of brain development such as epilepsy, intellectual disability and/or autism. To do this, we analyze mice with mutations in genes linked to epilepsy and, more recently, induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) derived from the skin of human patients.

    The lab is also designing circuit-based therapies to rewire different brain structures in living animals and reprogram their behavior. Historically, modern medicine has relied on pharmacological approaches to deliver drugs throughout the body. While these chronic drug strategies can work, they are quite crude and often result in unwanted side effects. By focusing on a circuit-level understanding of how the brain generates behavior, we recently discovered a way to stop seizures (and other behavioral problems) in severely epileptic mice. This approach involves grafting new inhibitory interneurons into areas of the brain important for seizure generation. Based on this work, we have an increasing interest in the generation of specific, well-defined cell types for use in cell therapy and continue to explore new avenues for rewiring the nervous system.

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    Rewiring the injured brain with GABA progenitors.
    NIH/NINDS R01NS096012Feb 15, 2016 - Jan 31, 2021
    Role: Principal Investigator
    Functional engraftment of stem cell-derived cortical interneurons
    NIH/NINDS R00NS085046May 1, 2015 - Apr 30, 2018
    Role: Principal Investigator
    Functional engraftment of stem cell-derived cortical interneurons
    NIH/NINDS K99NS085046Sep 20, 2013 - Aug 31, 2015
    Role: Principal Investigator
    Functional integration of inhibitory interneuron progenitors in the adult brain
    NIH/NINDS F32NS077747Jul 1, 2012 - Jun 30, 2014
    Role: Principal Investigator

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    Collapse Publications
    Publications listed below are automatically derived from MEDLINE/PubMed and other sources, which might result in incorrect or missing publications. Researchers can login to make corrections and additions, or contact us for help.
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    1. Kim YJ, Khoshkhoo S, Frankowski JC, Zhu B, Abbasi S, Lee S, Wu YE, Hunt RF. Chd2 Is Necessary for Neural Circuit Development and Long-Term Memory. Neuron. 2018 Oct 13. PMID: 30344048.
      View in: PubMed
    2. Frankowski JC, Kim YJ, Hunt RF. Selective vulnerability of hippocampal interneurons to graded traumatic brain injury. Neurobiol Dis. 2018 Jul 19. PMID: 30031783.
      View in: PubMed
    3. Kim YJ, Hunt RF. Irritable No More: Activating Mossy Cells for the Treatment of Epilepsy. Epilepsy Curr. 2018 Jul-Aug; 18(4):251-252. PMID: 30254523.
      View in: PubMed
    4. Dinday MT, Girskis KM, Lee S, Baraban SC, Hunt RF. PAFAH1B1 haploinsufficiency disrupts GABA neurons and synaptic E/I balance in the dentate gyrus. Sci Rep. 2017 Aug 15; 7(1):8269. PMID: 28811646.
      View in: PubMed
    5. Hunt RF, Baraban SC. Interneuron Transplantation as a Treatment for Epilepsy. Cold Spring Harb Perspect Med. 2015 Dec 01; 5(12). PMID: 26627452.
      View in: PubMed
    6. Stanco A, Pla R, Vogt D, Chen Y, Mandal S, Walker J, Hunt RF, Lindtner S, Erdman CA, Pieper AA, Hamilton SP, Xu D, Baraban SC, Rubenstein JL. NPAS1 represses the generation of specific subtypes of cortical interneurons. Neuron. 2014 Dec 03; 84(5):940-53. PMID: 25467980; PMCID: PMC4258152.
    7. Toyo-oka K, Wachi T, Hunt RF, Baraban SC, Taya S, Ramshaw H, Kaibuchi K, Schwarz QP, Lopez AF, Wynshaw-Boris A. 14-3-3e and ? regulate neurogenesis and differentiation of neuronal progenitor cells in the developing brain. J Neurosci. 2014 Sep 03; 34(36):12168-81. PMID: 25186760; PMCID: PMC4152612.
    8. Vogt D, Hunt RF, Mandal S, Sandberg M, Silberberg SN, Nagasawa T, Yang Z, Baraban SC, Rubenstein JL. Lhx6 directly regulates Arx and CXCR7 to determine cortical interneuron fate and laminar position. Neuron. 2014 Apr 16; 82(2):350-64. PMID: 24742460; PMCID: PMC4261952.
    9. Hunt RF, Boychuk JA, Smith BN. Neural circuit mechanisms of post-traumatic epilepsy. Front Cell Neurosci. 2013; 7:89. PMID: 23785313; PMCID: PMC3684786.
    10. Hunt RF, Girskis KM, Rubenstein JL, Alvarez-Buylla A, Baraban SC. GABA progenitors grafted into the adult epileptic brain control seizures and abnormal behavior. Nat Neurosci. 2013 Jun; 16(6):692-7. PMID: 23644485; PMCID: PMC3665733.
    11. Hunt RF, Baraban SC. The devil is in the details: stem cells for the treatment of epilepsy. Epilepsy Curr. 2012 Nov; 12(6):213-5. PMID: 23447713; PMCID: PMC3577122.
    12. Hunt RF, Dinday MT, Hindle-Katel W, Baraban SC. LIS1 deficiency promotes dysfunctional synaptic integration of granule cells generated in the developing and adult dentate gyrus. J Neurosci. 2012 Sep 12; 32(37):12862-75. PMID: 22973010; PMCID: PMC3752080.
    13. Hunt RF, Hortopan GA, Gillespie A, Baraban SC. A novel zebrafish model of hyperthermia-induced seizures reveals a role for TRPV4 channels and NMDA-type glutamate receptors. Exp Neurol. 2012 Sep; 237(1):199-206. PMID: 22735490; PMCID: PMC3418450.
    14. Hunt RF, Haselhorst LA, Schoch KM, Bach EC, Rios-Pilier J, Scheff SW, Saatman KE, Smith BN. Posttraumatic mossy fiber sprouting is related to the degree of cortical damage in three mouse strains. Epilepsy Res. 2012 Mar; 99(1-2):167-70. PMID: 22047981; PMCID: PMC3290720.
    15. Hunt RF, Scheff SW, Smith BN. Synaptic reorganization of inhibitory hilar interneuron circuitry after traumatic brain injury in mice. J Neurosci. 2011 May 04; 31(18):6880-90. PMID: 21543618; PMCID: PMC3102318.
    16. Hunt RF, Scheff SW, Smith BN. Regionally localized recurrent excitation in the dentate gyrus of a cortical contusion model of posttraumatic epilepsy. J Neurophysiol. 2010 Mar; 103(3):1490-500. PMID: 20089815; PMCID: PMC2887624.
    17. Hunt RF, Scheff SW, Smith BN. Posttraumatic epilepsy after controlled cortical impact injury in mice. Exp Neurol. 2009 Feb; 215(2):243-52. PMID: 19013458; PMCID: PMC4694635.