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Nathan A. Smith, M.S., Ph.D.

(Pronouns: he/him)

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Professional Background

Dr. Nathan A. Smith is the new Associate Dean for Equity and Inclusion in Research and Research Education and Associate Professor of Neuroscience in the School of Medicine and Dentistry at the University of Rochester. Previously, Dr. Smith served as Director of Basic Neuroscience Research and a Principal Investigator in the Center for Neuroscience Research at Children's National Research Institute and an Assistant Professor of Pediatrics and Pharmacology & Physiology at George Washington University School of Medicine and Health Sciences. He received his B.S. in Biology from Xavier University and his M.S. and Ph.D. in Neuroscience from the University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry. Upon graduating in 2013, he became the first Black American male to receive a Ph.D. from the neuroscience program at the University of Rochester School of Medicine. Subsequently, Dr. Smith conducted his postdoctoral research at the University of Utah, Boston University, and Children's National Hospital. Dr. Smith has received numerous honors and awards in his career, including being named a 2021 Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), named by Cell Press as one of 1000 most Inspiring Black Scientists in America in 2020, a recipient of the 2019 Neuroscience Alumni Award from the University of Rochester, and a recipient of the 2018 Children's National President's Award for Innovation in Research.


Projects in my laboratory focus on “Neuro-Glia” interactions. My research explores the understudied and novel mechanisms by which neuromodulators mediate the interactions between neurons, astrocytes, and microglia in both normal and disease states. By studying how neuromodulators mediate the unique interactions between these three cell types, we will elucidate their coordinated functions in the normal, healthy brain and how disruptions of neuronal-glial crosstalk will contribute to disease processes such as ADHD, epilepsy, and insulin resistance. To that end, we hope these studies will provide valuable insight on the role of glia in pathophysiology, which is under-recognized in developmental disorders, with the hope of revealing pathways suitable for manipulation to alter disease progression in the central nervous system. To accomplish these goals, we employ a combination of transgenic animals, electrophysiology, pharmacology, behavioral assays, and 2-Photon Ca2+ imaging in acute slices and awake behaving animals.



Bachelor of Science | Xavier University of Louisiana

MS | University of Rochester School of Medicine & Dentistry

PhD | University of Rochester School of Medicine & Dentistry

Post-doctoral Training & Residency

2015 - 2017
Postdoctoral Fellow, Center for Neuroscience Research, Children's National Research Institute. Trained with Dr. Judy Liu

2013 - 2015
Postdoctoral Fellow, Department of Bioengineering, University of Utah/ Boston University. Trained with Dr. John A. White.


2021 - Present
1000 most Inspiring Black Scientists in America
Sponsor: Cell Press
Location: Washington DC

2021 - 2022
2021 AAAS Fellow
Sponsor: American Association for the Advancement of Science

2020 - Present
Sigma XI Research Honor Society
Sponsor: SIgma XI
Location: Washington DC

2019 - 2020
2019 Neuroscience Alumni Award
Sponsor: University of Rochester School of Medicine Del Monte Institute f
Location: Rochester NY

2019 - 2020
Broadening the Representation of Academic Investigators in NeuroScience (BRAINS) Fellow
Sponsor: BRAINS
Location: Washington DC

2018 - 2019
Children's National President's Award for Innovative Research
Sponsor: Children's National Research Institute
Location: Washington DC

2018 - 2019
Mentoring Institute for Neuroscience Diversity Scholar (MINDS) Fellow
Sponsor: MINDS
Location: Washington DC

2013 - 2014
Carl Storm Underrepresented Minority Gordon Conference Travel Award
Sponsor: Gordon Research Conference
Location: Rochester NY

2013 - 2014
American Epilepsy Society Fellows
Sponsor: American Epilepsy Society
Location: Salt Lake City, UT

2012 - 2013
People's Choice Award Winner at the 2012 Annual GSS Poster Session
Sponsor: University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry
Location: Rochester NY

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Journal Articles

Rasmussen RN, Smith NA. "The elusive varicose astrocytes." Trends in neurosciences.. 2022 Feb; 45(2):94-95. Epub 2021 Nov 22.

Smith NA, Helmreich DL, Adamantidis A, Bovolenta P, Foxe JJ, Smith Y, Vaidya VA. ""Diversity Matters Series" - The Black In Neuro Movement." The European journal of neuroscience.. 2021 Dec 21; Epub 2021 Dec 21.

Johnson KO, Smith NA, Goldstein EZ, Gallo V, Triplett JW. "NMDA Receptor Expression by Retinal Ganglion Cells Is Not Required for Retinofugal Map Formation nor Eye-Specific Segregation in the Mouse." eNeuro.. 2021 8(4)Epub 2021 Jul 16.