Robert Hunt

Assistant Professor, Anatomy & Neurobiology
School of Medicine

Ph.D., University of Kentucky, 2010, Physiology

Postdoctoral Fellow, UCSF, 2015

Phone: 949-824-7079

University of California, Irvine

Irvine, CA 92697
Research Interests
neural circuits, synapses, stem cells, epilepsy, autism, traumatic brain injury
2010-2015 Postdoctoral Fellow, UCSF
Research Abstract
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.
Interneuron transplantation as a treatment for epilepsy
Hunt RF, Baraban SC
Cold Spring Harbor Perspectives in Medicine (2015)
NPAS1 represses the generation of specific subtypes of cortical interneurons
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 JLR.
Neuron (2014)
14-3-3e and z regulate neurogenesis and differentiation of neuronal progenitor cells in the developing brain
Toyooka K, Wachi T, Hunt RF, Baraban SC, Kaibuchi K, Schwarz QP, Lopez AF, Wynshaw-Boris A.
Journal of Neuroscience (2014)
Lhx6 directly regulates Arx and CXCR7 to determine cortical interneuron fate and laminar position
Vogt D, Hunt RF, Mandal S, Sandberg M, Silberberg SN, Nagasawa T, Yang Z, Baraban SC, Rubenstein JLR
Neuron (2014)
Neural circuit mechanisms of posttraumatic epilepsy
Hunt RF, Boychuk JA, Smith BN
Frontiers in Cellular Neuroscience (2013)
GABA progenitors grafted into the adult epileptic brain control seizures and abnormal behavior
Hunt RF, Girskis KM, Rubenstein JL, Alvarez-Buylla A, Baraban SC
Nature Neuroscience (2013)
The devil is in the details: Stem cells for the treatment of epilepsy
Hunt RF, Baraban SC
Epilepsy Currents (2012)
LIS1 deficiency promotes dysfunctional synaptic integration of granule cells generated in the developing and adult dentate gyrus
Hunt RF, Dinday MT, Hindle-Katel W, Baraban SC
Journal of Neuroscience (2012)
A novel zebrafish model of hyperthermia-induced seizures reveals a role for TRPV4 channels and NMDA-type glutamate receptors
Hunt RF, Hortopan GA, Gillespie A, Baraban SC
Experimental Neurology (2012)
Posttrauamtic mossy fiber sprouting is related to cortical damage in three mouse strains
Hunt RF, Haselhorst LA, Bach EC, Rios-Pelier J, Schoch KM, Scheff SW, Saatman KE, and Smith BN
Epilepsy Research (2012)
Synaptic reorganization of inhibitory hilar interneuron circuitry after traumatic brain injury in mice
Hunt RF, Scheff SW, Smith BN
Journal of Neuroscience (2011)
Regionally localized recurrent excitation in the dentate gyrus of a cortical contusion model of posttraumatic epilepsy
Hunt RF, Scheff SW, Smith BN
Journal of Neurophysiology (2010)
Posttraumatic epilepsy after controlled cortical impact injury in mice
Hunt RF, Scheff SW, Smith BN
Experimental Neurology (2009)
Graduate Programs
Interdepartmental Neuroscience Program

Research Centers
Epilepsy Research Center
Center for Autism Research and Translation (CART)
Sue & Bill Gross Stem Cell Research Center
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