About Randy J. Nelson, PhD
Dr. Nelson holds the Hazel Ruby McQuain Chair for Neurological Research in the WVU School of Medicine and is director of basic science research in the WVU Rockefeller Neuroscience Institute, as well as across the University. He also leads the neuroscience PhD program as one of the seven biomedical science PhD programs at the Health Sciences Center, and serves as a professor in the WVU Department of Behavioral Medicine and Psychiatry.
Nelson earned his AB and MA degrees in Psychology at the University of
California, Berkeley.. He earned a PhD in Psychology in 1983, as well as a
second PhD in Endocrinology in 1984, both from UC Berkeley. Dr. Nelson then
completed a postdoctoral fellowship at the Institute for Reproductive Biology
at the University of Texas, Austin.
Nelson served on the faculty at The Johns Hopkins University from 1986 until
2000, where he was a professor of psychology, neuroscience, biochemistry, and
molecular biology. He then served on the faculty at The Ohio State University
from 2000 - 2018, during which time he served as Distinguished University
Professor, as well as the co-director of both the Neuroscience Research
Institute (2014-2018) and the Neuroscience Graduate Studies Program
(2003-2009). He was also the faculty
lead in the Chronic Brain Injuries Discovery Theme.
Nelson has published over 400 research articles and more than 10 books
describing studies in biological rhythms, behavioral neuroendocrinology, and
immune function. Current studies focus
on circadian rhythms. Circadian rhythms are
endogenous biological rhythms of about 24 hours and are a fundamental
characteristic of life. Although life evolved over the past 3-4 billion
years under bright days and dark nights, humans have been able to interrupt
this natural light-dark cycle for the past 130 years or so with bright light at
night. The laboratory studies the effects of these disrupted circadian
rhythms on several parameters including immune function, neuroinflammation,
metabolism, sleep, and mood. Current projects in the lab include: studies
of environmental endocrine disruptors and light at night on motivated behaviors
such as food intake and aggression, prenatal and early life effects of light at
night on metabolism and immunity, and circadian disruption on neuroinflammation
associated with cardiac or cancer treatments.
Past 10 years PubMed publications
Selected Recent Publications
- Fonken, L.K., Workman, J.L., Walton, J.C., Weil, Z.M., Morris, J.S., Haim, A., & Nelson, R.J. 2010. Light at night increases body mass by shifting the time of food intake. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 107:18664-18669.
- Fonken, L.K., Xu, X., Weil, Z.M., Chen, G., Sun, Q., Rajagopalan, S. & Nelson, R.J. 2011. Air pollution impairs cognition, provokes depressive-like behaviors and alters hippocampal cytokine expression and morphology. Molecular Psychiatry, 16:987-995. PM217270364.
- Bedrosian, T.A., Herring, K.L., Weil, Z.M., & Nelson, R.J. 2011. Altered temporal patterns of anxiety in aged and amyloid precursor protein (APP) transgenic mice. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 108:11686-11691. PM21709248.
- Bedrosian, T.A., Weil, Z.M., & Nelson, R.J. 2013. Chronic dim light at night provokes reversible depression-like phenotype: possible role for TNF. Molecular Psychiatry, 18: 930-936. PM228224811.
- Bedrosian, T.A., Vaughn, C.A., Galan, A., Daye, Ghassan, Weil, Z.M. & Nelson, R.J. 2013. Nocturnal light exposure impairs affective responses in a wavelength-dependent manner. Journal of Neuroscience, 33:13081-13087. PM23926261.
- Fonken, L.K. & Nelson, R.J. 2014. The effects of light at night on circadian clocks and metabolism. Endocrine Reviews, 35:648-670. PMID24673196
- Gaudet, A., Fonken, Gushchina, L., L.K., Aubrecht, T.A., Maura, S.K., Periasamy, M., Nelson, R.J., & Popovich, P.G. 2016. microRNA-155 deletion prevents diet-induced obesity in mice. Scientific Reports, 6:22862; doi: 10.1038/srep22862
- Bedrosian, T.A. & Nelson, R.J. 2017. Timing of light exposure affects mood and brain circuits. Translational Psychiatry, 7: e1017. PM28140399.
- Borniger, J.C., Walker, W.H., Gaudier-Diaz, M.M., Stegman, C., Zhang, N., Hollyfield, J.L., Nelson, R.J. & DeVries, A.C. 2017. Time-of-day dictates transcriptional inflammatory responses to cytotoxic chemotherapy. Scientific Reports, 7:1-11. PM28117419.
- Cisse, YM, Russart, KL, & Nelson, RJ. 2017. Parental exposure to dim light at night prior to mating alters offspring adaptive immunity. Scientific Reports, 31:1-10. PM28361901.