Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine

Department of Physiology

Peter  Penzes, PhD

Peter Penzes, PhD

Ruth and Evelyn Dunbar Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences

Professor of Physiology and Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences



Ward Building Room 5-654
303 E Chicago Avenue
Chicago IL 60611

Education/Research Website

Education and Certification

PhD: SUNY - Buffalo, Biochemistry (1997)


Description of Interests

SYNAPTIC STRUCTURAL PLASTICITY: FROM MOLECULES TO COGNITIVE FUNCTIONS AND DISEASE Research in my lab centers on signal transduction networks that regulate the structural and functional plasticity of excitatory synapses. Synaptic communication between neurons within brain circuits underlies cognitive functions, and is disrupted in numerous neurodevelopmental and neuropsychiatric disorders. Most central excitatory synapses are located on dendritic spines, and spine structure is essential for normal and pathological brain function. Spine dynamics is crucial for the establishment, maintenance, and experience dependent modification of connectivity in neural circuits. Conversely, abnormal dendritic spine morphology occurs in patients with neurodegenerative, psychiatric, and neurodevelopmental disorders, including schizophrenia, autism, and Alzheimer’s disease. As spine morphology is closely associated with cognitive functions, understanding the mechanisms of regulation and dysregulation of spine plasticity is necessary to elucidate the neural bases of cognitive functions and disorders. The long-term goals of my research are: 1) to identify and characterize the molecular mechanisms that control synaptic structural plasticity. 2) to determine how they influence the development, functioning, and plasticity of brain circuits underlying cognition. 3) to uncover the molecular mechanisms underlying synaptic pathology and determine their impact on disease endophenotypes. To to achieve these objectives, we employ a multidisciplinary array of molecular, cellular, imaging, transgenic, electrophysiological, and behavioral approaches, and have assembled an outstanding team of collaborators.

Interests (Keywords)

Alzheimer's Disease; Autism Spectrum Disorders; Brain, Nervous System; Cytoskeleton; Nervous System Diseases; Neuroscience; Schizophrenia; Signal Transduction

Research and Publications

Northwestern Scholars

View the Peter Penzes Northwestern Scholars profile.

Northwestern Scholars is a searchable database including faculty profiles, publications, and grant data from across all Northwestern University disciplines. It connects faculty members from all disciplines across Northwestern University to new research opportunities and collaborations at Northwestern.


Institutes and Centers

Feinberg's institutes and centers facilitate collaboration on scientific problems, research, and educational initiatives. I am a member of the following institutes and centers:



Edit My Profile

Northwestern medical faculty can update their faculty profile any time and as often as they like using the web-based, secure platform. It is the responsibility of faculty members to add content and build a profile that reflects their contributions to Feinberg and their specialty.