BBS Faculty Member - Amar Sahay

Amar Sahay

Center for Regenerative Medicine, Department of Psychiatry

Center for Regenerative Medicine, Harvard Stem Cell Institute
185 Cambridge Street
CPZN-Room 4242
Boston, MA 02114
Tel: 617-643-4371
Fax: 617-724-2662
Visit my lab page here.

The incidence and complexity of mental illnesses and cognitive impairments associated with ageing and Alzheimer’s disease underscores the need to develop novel treatments. Our mission is to generate fundamental insights into the role of adult hippocampal neurogenesis, the process by which neural stem cells generate dentate granule neurons throughout life, in hippocampal functions in encoding, memory processing and modulation of mood. By integrating cellular, circuit, systems and behavioral interrogation of adult hippocampal neurogenesis, we aspire to rejuvenate and re-engineer hippocampal circuitry to optimize circuit performance in diseases such as depression, anxiety disorders, Alzheimer’s disease and ageing.

To address this goal, we have established a multifaceted research program that integrates inducible mouse- and viral-genetics, pharmaco- and optogenetics, synaptic tracing, in vivo awake behaving optical imaging, 2 photon imaging, human cellular reprogramming, and behavioral analysis. Specifically, we are interested in the following questions.

1. How are neural stem cell activation-quiescence decisions physiologically regulated?
2. What are the mechanisms underlying lineage homeostasis and experience dependent integration of adult-born neurons?
3. How do properties and connectivity of adult-born neurons causally relate to their encoding and memory functions?
4. How does adult hippocampal neurogenesis influence hippocampal activity and limbic circuits sub serving mood?
5. How do our studies on properties and connectivity of adult-born neurons in rodents inform our thinking of the human brain in health and disease?
6. What are the molecular mechanisms operational in the hippocampus underlying resilience and vulnerability to stress?

Last Update: 10/5/2016


For a complete listing of publications click here.



Scobie KN, Hall BJ, Wilke SA, Klemenhagen KC, Fujii-Kuriyama Y, Ghosh A, Hen R, Sahay A. Krüppel-like factor 9 (Klf-9) is necessary for late-phase neuronal maturation in the developing dentate gyrus and during adult hippocampal neurogenesis. The Journal of Neuroscience. 2009; 29(31): 9875-9887.

Sahay A*, Scobie KN, Hill AS, O'Carroll CM, Kheirbek MA, Burghardt NS, Fenton AA, Dranovsky A, Hen R*. Increasing adult hippocampal neurogenesis is sufficient to improve pattern separation. Nature. 2011; 472 (7344): 466-470. *Co-corresponding author
· “New Neurons, New Opportunities”, Leading Edge, Learning & Memory,
Cell 145, May 13, 2011
· Research Highlights,
Nature Reviews Neuroscience, Volume 12, June 2011

Sahay A, Wilson DA, Hen R. Pattern separation: A common function for new neurons in hippocampus and olfactory Bulb. Neuron. 2011; 70(4):582-588.

Kheirbek MA, Klemenhagen KC,
Sahay A*, Hen R*. Neurogenesis and generalization: a new approach to stratify and treat anxiety disorders. Nature Neuroscience. 2012; 15(12):1613-1620. *Co-corresponding author

Ikrar T, Guo N, He K, Besnard A, Levinson S, Hill A, Lee HK, Hen R, Xu X,
Sahay A. Adult neurogenesis modifies excitability of the dentate gyrus. Frontiers in Neural Circuits. 2013;7:204.

Hill AS,
Sahay A*, Hen R*. Increasing adult hippocampal neurogenesis is sufficient to reduce anxiety and depression-like behaviors. Neuropsychopharmacology. 2015; 40(10):2368-2378. * Co-corresponding author.

McAvoy K, Russo C, Kim S, Rankin G,
Sahay A. Fluoxetine induces input-specific dendritic spine remodeling in adulthood and middle age. Hippocampus. 2015; 25(11):1429-1446.

Besnard A,
Sahay A. Adult hippocampal neurogenesis, fear generalization and stress. Neuropsychopharmacology. 2016; 41(1):24-44. PMC4677119.

McAvoy K, Scobie KN, Berger S, Russo C, Guo N, Decharatanachart P, Miake-LyeS , Whalen M, Nelson M, Bergami M, Bartsch D, Hen R, Berninger B,
Sahay A. Modulating competition dynamics in the dentate gyrus to rejuvenate aging memory circuits. Neuron. 2016; 91(6):1356-1373.
· “Encouraging Integration”. Research Highlights in
Nature Reviews Neuroscience, Volume 17, number 11, November, 2016.
· Previewed in “Re-engineering the Hippocampus” in
Neuron, 2016; 91(6): 1190-1191.

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of Harvard College