hensch-photo-1_editTakao K. Hensch

Professor, Molecular & Cellular Biology
Professor, Neurology (Children’s Hospital)
Center for Brain Science
Harvard University

Takao K. Hensch, PhD, is joint professor of Neurology, Harvard Medical School at Boston Children’s Hospital, and professor of Molecular and Cellular Biology at Harvard’s Center for Brain Science. After undergraduate studies with Dr. J Allan Hobson at Harvard, he was a student of Dr. Masao Ito at the University Tokyo (MPH) and a Fulbright fellow with Dr. Wolf Singer at the Max-Planck Institute for Brain Research, before receiving a PhD in neuroscience working with Dr. Michael Stryker at the University of California, San Francisco in 1996. He then helped to launch the RIKEN Brain Science Institute as lab head for neuronal circuit development and served as group director (and now special advisor) before returning to the United States in 2006. Professor Hensch has received several honors, including the Society for Neuroscience Young Investigator Award in both Japan (2001 Tsukahara Prize) and the United States (2005), as well as an NIH Director’s Pioneer Award (2007). He currently directs the NIMH Silvio O. Conte Center for Basic Mental Health Research at Harvard.   Read more>>

Current Lab Members:

photo 1Haneui Bae
Graduate Student, Molecules, Cells and Organisms Program
Haneui is interested in the role of specialized extracellular matrix structures called perineuronal nets in regulating critical period plasticity. Perineuronal nets form mainly around parvalbumin-expressing interneurons, whose maturation triggers the onset and closing of critical periods. Haneui received her bachelor’s degree in Neuroscience from Amherst College and studied the development of Drosophila larvae neuromuscular junctions in the lab of Dr. Ethan Graf.

Pic crop for websiteGervasio Batista
Postdoctoral Fellow, Department of Molecular and Cellular Biology
Gervasio is interested in uncovering the molecular mechanisms controlling the organization of social behaviors during critical periods. Combining multi-tracking algorithms and genetic tools he investigates the consequences of early life experience on social interactions withing complex environments. Gervasio obtained his PhD from Albert Einstein College of Medicine where he studied the translational control of imprinting in chickens in the laboratory of Prof. Jose Peña.

Delma Maddalena Delma Caiati
Postdoctoral Fellow, Department of Molecular and Cellular Biology
Delma’s research focuses on the investigation of the circuit operations involved in experience dependent plasticity, during critical periods of brain development characterized by heightened neuroplasticity. Using electrophysiological, optical and genetic tools her aim is to reverse engineer the cortical and thalamocortical dynamics underlying critical period of plasticity in physiological conditions and in neurodevelopmental disorders. Delma graduated in Medicine at Universita’ degli Studi di Bari, Italy and obtained her PhD in Neurobiology working with Prof. Enrico Cherubini, at International School for Advanced Studies, Trieste, Italy.

photo 3Nate Hodgson
Postdoctoral Fellow, F.M. Kirby Neurobiology Center at Boston Children’s Hospital
Nate’s research is focused on the role of oxidative stress and redox buffering in neurological disorders. Currently he is studying the regulation of perineuronal net formation by Otx2 and how perineuronal nets impact the metabolism of thiol-containing amino acids and glutathione in parvalbumin-positive interneurons.  Nate received his BS in biochemistry and molecular biology from Gettysburg College and his PhD in pharmacology from Northeastern University, where he worked with Prof. Richard Deth.

Carolyn Johnson Hensch Lab SiteCarolyn Johnson
Postdoctoral Fellow, Department of Molecular and Cellular Biology
Carolyn is interested in the developmental maturation of neural circuits for decision-making. She uses two-photon imaging of awake behaving animals along with electrophysiology and genetic techniques. Carolyn received a BA from Bowdoin College and a PhD in Neuroscience from UCSF where she worked with Prof. Linda Wilbrecht.


Hing Cheong (Henry) Lee
Postdoctoral Fellow, F.M. Kirby Neurobiology Center at Boston Children’s Hospital
Henry is interested in the role of parvalbumin neural circuits in the control of brain plasticity, and in translating this knowledge into better treatments for neurological disorders. Currently he is studying how the homeoprotein Otx2, a critical factor in the maturation of parvalbumin neurons, is regulated in the developing brain. Henry received his BSc and MPhil from Hong Kong University of Science and Technology and his PhD from University College London, where he worked with Prof. Stephen Moss.

Yuichi MakinoYuichi Makino
Postdoctoral Fellow, Department of Molecular and Cellular Biology
Yuichi is interested in the developmental regulation of higher brain functions, such as emotion, learning and memory. With a combination of behavioral experiments and electrophysiology in freely behaving animals, he is investigating the development of the network. Before joining the lab, he performed his PhD study in Neuroscience with Dr. Richard Huganir at Johns Hopkins University and postdoctoral research with Dr. Thomas McHugh at RIKEN.

nathaliepicardNathalie Picard
Postdoctoral Fellow, F.M. Kirby Neurobiology Center at Boston Children’s Hospital
Nathalie is interested in understanding the cellular mechanisms involved in cortical development in normal condition and in cognitive disorders and in translating this knowledge into better treatments for neurological disorders. She obtained a master in Biochemistry at the University of Denis Diderot (Paris, France) and her PhD in Neuroscience at the Medical School Amiens (France). During her PhD, she investigated the effects of prenatal drug exposure on the neuronal network controlling the respiratory function to identify factors leading to respiratory disorders such as Sudden Infant Death.
Rashmi_Sarnaik_headshotRashmi Sarnaik
Postdoctoral Fellow, F.M. Kirby
Neurobiology Center at Boston Children’s Hospital

Rashmi is interested in understanding how genetic abnormalities and environmental stressors in early life impact organization and function of neuronal circuits. Using electrophysiology, optogenetics, behavioral assays and computational tools she investigates long-range circuits between the cerebellum and the prefrontal cortex during development and in disease. Rashmi received her Ph.D. at Northwestern University studying organization and function of visual receptive fields in Dr. Jianhua Cang’s laboratory. During her postdoctoral tenure in Dr. Indira Raman’s laboratory at Northwestern, she investigated the effect of cerebellar output patterns on locomotion in mice.

geoff_vargish_photoGeoffrey Vargish
Postdoctural Fellow, F.M. Kirby Neurobiology Center at Boston Children’s Hospital
Geoffrey is interested in understanding the role of inhibitory circuitry in critical period plasticity. Using a multimodal approach, Geoffrey aims to explore presynaptic inputs to parvalbumin-expressing interneurons, examining the maturation of these circuits and their contribution to cellular and network function. Geoffrey received a BS in Neurobiology from the University of Miami and an MPH from Drexel University before obtaining his PhD from Brown University, where he worked in the lab of Chris McBain at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) as part of the Brown-NIH graduate partnership program.

Rachel Woo
Research Assistant, Department of Molecular and Cellular Biology
Rachel is interested in the role of critical period plasticity in development. Rachel obtained her bachelor’s degree in Neuroscience from Wellesley College where she worked with Prof. Sharon Gobes studying the balance between excitation and inhibition in zebra finches.


Lab Alumni
Name Year Departed Current Position
Erin Diel 2018 Imaging Specialist, Harvard Center for Biological Imaging, Harvard University
Anne Takesian 2017 Assistant Professor, Mass. Eye & Ear Institute (HMS)
Annarita Patrizi 2017 Schaller Group Leader, DKFZ German Cancer Research Center, Heidelberg University
Zhanlei Ye 2016 Quantitative Analyst, Engineering, Google (Mountain View) CA
Yohei Kobayashi 2016 Research Scientist, Sumitomo Dainippon Pharma (Japan)
Ryoma Hattori 2016 Post-doc, Takaki Komiyama Lab, UCSD
Luke Bogart 2015 Post-doc, Pfizer
Rebecca Reh 2015 Post-doc, Janet Werker Lab, Univ British Columbia (Canada)
Nadine Gogolla 2013 Group Leader, Max-Planck Institute Munich (Germany)
Daniel Brady 2012 Data Scientist, Orita
Kathleen Quast 2012 Preceptor/Teacher, Harvard Univ.
Tania Rinaldi Barkat 2012 Assistant Prof, Univ Basel (Switzerland)
Hirofumi Morishita 2011 Assistant Prof, Mt Sinai School of Medicine
Severine Durand 2011 Staff Scientist, Allen Brain Institute
Akiko Wagatsuma 2009 Research Scientist, Susumu Tonegawa Lab, MIT
Sayaka Sugiyama 2009 Associate Prof, Niigata Univ School of Medicine (Japan)
Judy Sng 2009 Senior Lecturer, National U. of Singapore
Anita Scheuber 2008 Senior Director, Pfizer (Philadelphia)
Yoko Yazaki-Sugiyama 2007 Associate Prof, Okinawa Institute Science Technology (Japan)
Nafiseh Atapour 2007 Research Scientist, Univ Melbourne (Australia)
Hiroyuki Miyamoto 2007 JST (Sakigake) Researcher, RIKEN Brain Science Institute (Japan)
Nobuko Mataga 2007 RRC Unit Leader, RIKEN Brain Science Institute (Japan)
Yoshiko Tsuchimoto 2006 Staff Scientist, RIKEN Brain Science Institute (Japan)
Michela Fagiolini 2006 Assistant Prof, Boston Children’s Hospital Boston (HMS)
Hiroyuki Katagiri 2005 Assistant Prof, Tokyo Univ (Japan)
Toshiyuki Ishii 2005 Assistant Prof, Nippon Medical School (Japan)
Toral Surti 2005 Medical resident, Yale Univ
Youichi Iwai 2005 Staff Scientist, RIKEN Brain Science Institute (Japan)
Mi Hwa Chung 2004 Assistant Prof, Kitasato Univ (Japan)
Masaaki Hazama 2004 Clinical Practice, Osaka Univ (Japan)
Istvan Katona 2004 Associate Prof, Hungarian Academy of Sciences (Budapest)
Yoshitaka Matsuda 2003 Associate Prof, Doshisha Univ (Japan)
Laura Cancedda 2001 Lab head, Italian Institute of Technology (IIT), Genoa (Italy)
Frederick Bellinger 2001 Research Associate, Univ Hawaii
John Renger 2000 Neurobiology Division Head, Merck Pharmaceuticals
Michael Silver 2000 Assistant Prof, UC Berkeley
Helen Hsieh 1999 Medical Resident, McGill Univ (Canada)
Kenichi Hartman 1999 U.S. Patent Agent, Allan C. Entis Intellectual Property Ltd.
Jamie Poyer 1999 Industry
Alexandra Rebsam 1998 CR2, INSERM Institut du Fer à Moulin (Paris, France)