Diane K. O'Dowd

Picture of Diane K. O'Dowd
HHMI Professor, Developmental & Cell Biology
School of Biological Sciences
Professor, Anatomy & Neurobiology
School of Medicine
Vice Provost, Academic Personnel
PH.D., 1985
Phone: (949)824-0663
Email: dkodowd@uci.edu
University of California, Irvine
4221 McGaugh Hall or 510 Aldrich
Mail Code: 2300
Irvine, CA 92697
Research Interests
Synaptic transmission, plasticity, ion channels, Drosophila, genetics, learning and memory, nicotine
Academic Distinctions
2014 Chancellor's Living Our Values Award, UCI
2014 Faculty recipient of the UCI Postdoctoral Service Award
2011-12 UCI Professor of the Year for Exceptional Undergraduate Instruction
2012 First Annual Student’s Choice Award, Best Biology Professor, UCI
2009 UCI Faculty Award, University Extension
2008 AAAS Fellow
2008-2009 National Academies Education Mentor in the Life Sciences
2006-2009 Board Member, National Academies Summer Institute on Undergrad. Ed.
2006-2014 HHMI Professor Award
2007 UCI Senate Council on Student Experience, TA Development Award
2005-6 UCI Academic Senate Distinguished Faculty Teaching Award, UCI
2005 Faculty Member of the Month (October), Mesa Court, Student Organization
2005 Biological Sciences Golden Apple Teaching Award
2004 National Acadamies Education Fellow in the Life Sciences
1995-2000 Research Career Development Award (RCDA), NIH
1989-1991 Multiple Sclerosis Society Fellowship
1989 Irvine Faculty Research Fellowship
1989 Irvine College of Medicine Faculty Research Grant
1986-1988 American Cancer Society Postdoctoral Fellowship
1985 European Molecular Biology Organization Fellowship
1982 Cold Spring Harbor Grass Fellowship
1979-1982 National Science Foundation Predoctoral Fellowship
1986-1989, Postdoctoral Fellow in laboratory of Dr. Rick Aldrich, Stanford University
Research Abstract
My research lab at UCI has studied the activity of living neurons from the brains of both flies and mice. Using molecular genetic manipulations and whole cell electrophysiology we are exploring the role of specific genes in regulating functional plasticity of developing and mature neural circuits. Recently my lab has focused on exploring the cellular mechanisms underlying generation of seizures caused by mutations in the sodium channel gene, SCN1A. We have generated knock-in flies, mice, and induced human pluripotent stem cells (hiPSCs) to compare sodium channel activity and firing properties in neurons with/without epilepsy causing mutations. Cellular changes conserved in the different models are those most likely to reflect mechanism contributing to the human disease. Equally interesting are distinct mechanism between models that provide insight into new pathways leading to similar phenotypes. These data inform our use of the knock-in models to screen for patient specific therapies.

Teaching and science education research are also important facets of my career. As an HHMI Professor I have worked on transforming the relationship between teaching and research at UCI, a setting where research tends to dominate, and teaching is often viewed a burdensome chore. In the classroom we developed strategies to help create dynamic learning environments in large biology classes that are compatible with the faculty building or maintaining successful research programs. We also developed training programs for employing evidence-based teaching practices for future faculty in teaching discussion sections/classes. In my lab I work with graduate students and postdoctoral fellows in mentoring undergraduate research. Graduate student and postdocs in the lab are paired with an undergraduate team and receive guidance in mentoring the students in developing scientific thinking in addition to technical skills while they help conduct the experiments in the lab. The mentors oversee the undergraduate team in writing an abstract and presenting a poster or talk about their work at one or more scientific meetings/year. In my role as the Vice Provost for Academic Personnel I have been working to increase the quality of the evidence used to evaluate teaching and value placed on teaching in the academic review process at R1 universities.
Das, A, Zhu, B., Xie, Y#., Zeng, L.#, Pham, A., Neumann, J., Safrina, O., Benavides, D., MacGregor, G., Schutte, S.S., Hunt, R.*, and O'Dowd, D.K.* (2021) Interneuron dysfunction in a new mouse model of SCN1A GEFS+. eNeuro, in press. # authors contributed equally, *co-corresponding authors.
Williams, A.E. and O’Dowd, D.K. (2020) Seven practical strategies to add active learning to a science lecture. Neuroscience Letters 743: 125317. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0304394020305875?via%3Dihub
Xie, Y., Ng, N.N., Safrina, O.S., Ramos, C.M., Ess, K.C., Schwarz, P.H., Smith, M.A., and O’Dowd, D.K. (2019) Comparisons of dual isogenic human iPSC pairs identify functional alterations directly cause by an epilepsy associate SCN1A mutation. Neurobiology of Disease, Nov 28: 104627. doi: 10.1016/j.nbd.2019.104627
Murray, A.W., O’Dowd, D.K., and Impey, C.D. (2019) When it comes to teaching and tenure it is time to walk the walk. eLife 8: e50524. DOI: https://doi.org/10.7554/elife.50542
Roemmich, AJ, Schutte, SS, O'Dowd DK. (2018) Ex vivo whole-cell recordings in adult Drosophila brain. Bio Protoc. 8 (14). pii: e2467. PMID: 30148187.
Schutte, R.J., Y. Xie, N.N.Ng, P. Figueroa, A.T. Pham, and D.K. O’Dowd (2018) Astrocyte-enriched feeder layers from cryopreserved cells support differentiation of spontaneously active networks of human iPSC-derived neurons. J. Neurosci. Methods 294:91-101 PMID:28746822.
Anbar, A., Elgin, S., Jez, J., O’Dowd, D., Shapiro, B., Zaman, M. (2018) Improving Societies’ harassment policies. Science 361: 6406. Letter. PMID: 30190397.
Xie, Y., R. J. Schutte, N.N. Ng, K.C. Ess, P.H. Schwartz and D.K. O'Dowd (2018). Reproducible and efficient generation of functionally active neurons from human hIPSCs for preclinical disease modeling. Stem Cell Research 26: 84-94.
Dennin, M, Schultz ZD, Feig, A, Finkelstein, N, Greenhoot, AF, Hildreth, M, Leibovich, AK, Martin, JD, Moldwin, MB, O'Dowd, DK, Posey, LA, Smith, TL, Miller, ER. (2017) Aligning practice to policies: Changing the culture to recognize and reward teaching at research universities. CBE Life Sci Educ. 16:es5, 1-8. PMID: 29196430
Guven-Ozkan, T., G.U. Busto, S.S. Schutte, I. Cervantes-Sandoval, D.K.O’Dowd, and R.L. Davis (2016) MiR-980 is a memory suppressor microRNA that regulates the autism-susceptibility gene A2bp1. Cell Rep 14: 1698-709. PMID: 26876166
Schutte, S.S., R.J. Schutte, E.V. Barragan, and D.K. O’Dowd (2016) Model systems for studying cellular mechanisms of SCN1A related epilepsy. J. Neurophysiol. 115: 1755-1766. PMID: 26843603
Reimer, L., K. Schenke, T. Nguyen, D. K. O’Dowd, T. Domina, and M. Waschauer (2016) Evaluating promising practices in undergraduate STEM lecture courses. The Russell Sage Foundation Journal of the Social Sciences 2: 212-233.
Williams, A.E., N. M. Aguilar-Roca, and D.K. O’Dowd (2016) Lecture capture podcasts: differential student use and performance in a large introductory course. Education Technology Research and Development 64: 1-12. DOI 10.1007/s11423-015-9406-5.
Brick, D.J., H.E. Nethercott, S. Montesano, M.G. Banuelos, A.E. Stover, S.S. Schutte, D. K. O'Dowd, R. J. Hagerman, M. Ono, D.R. Hessl, F. Tassone, and P.H. Schwartz (2014) The autism spectrum disorders stem cell resource at CHOC Children's: Implication for disease modeling and drug discovery. Stem Cells Translational Medicine 3: 1275-1286. PMID: 25273538.
Jiang*, S., A.E. Williams*, M. Warschauer, W. He, and D.K.O'Dowd (2014) Influence of incentives on performance in a Pre-college Biology MOOC. International Review of Research in Open and Distance Learning (IRRODL), 15.5 (*co-first authors).
Schutte, Ryan J., S.S. Schutte, J.Algara, E.V. Barragan, J.Gilligan, Cynthia Staber, Yiannis A. Savva, Martin A. Smith, Robert Reenan, and Diane K. O’Dowd (2014) Knock-in model of Dravet Syndrome reveals a constitutive and conditional reduction in sodium current. J. Neurophysiol. 112: 903-912. PMID: 24805083
Brick, D.J., H.E. Nethercott, S. Montesano, M.G. Banuelos, A.E. Stover, S.S. Schutte, D. K. O'Dowd, R. J. Hagerman, M. Ono, D.R. Hessl, F. Tassone, and P.H. Schwartz (2014) The autism spectrum disorders stem cell resource at CHOC Children's: Implication for disease modeling and drug discovery. Stem Cells Translational Medicine 3: 1275-1286. PMID: 25273538
Narayanareddy, B.R.J, S. Vartiainen, N. Hariri, D.K. O’Dowd and S.P. Gross (2014) A biophysical analysis of mitochondrial movement: differences between transport in neuronal cell bodies versus processes. Traffic 15: 762-71. PMID 24673933
Iniguez, J., S.S. Schutte, and D.K. O’Dowd (2013) Cav3-type a1T calcium channels mediate transient calcium currents that regulate repetitive firing in Drosophila antennal lobe PNs. J. Neurophysiol. 110: 1490-1496 PMID: 23864373
Anderson, W.A., U. Banerjee, C.L. Drennan, S.C.R. Elgin, I.R. Epstein, J. Handelsman, G.F. Hatfull, R. Losick*, D.K. O’Dowd*, B.M. Olivera, S.A. Strobel, G.C. Walker, and I.M. Warner (2011) Changing the Culture of Science Education at Research Universities. Science 331: 152-153. *corresponding authors.
Stover, A., D. Brick, H. Nethercott, M. Banuelos, L. Sun, D. K. O’Dowd, and P. Schwartz (2013) Process-based expansion and neural differentation of human pluripotent stem cells for transplantation and disease-modeling. J. Neurosci. Res 91: 1247-1262. PMID: 23893392
Sun, L., J. Gilligan, C. Staber, R.J. Schutte, V. Nguyen, D.K.O’Dowd* and R. Reenan* (2012) A knock-in model of human epilepsy in Drosophila reveals a novel cellular mechanism associated with heat-induced seizure. J. Neurosci. 32: 14145-14155. *co-corresponding authors
Aguilar-Roca, N.M., A. E. Williams, and D.K. O’Dowd (2012) The impact of laptop-free zones on student performance and attitudes in large lectures. Computers & Education 59: 1300-1308.
Ren, P., H. Zhang, F. Qiu, Y.Q. Liu, H. Gu, D.K. O’Dowd, Q.Y. Zhou, and W.P. Hu. (2011) Prokineticin 2 regulates the electrical activity of rat suprachiasmatic nuclei neurons. PloSOne 6:(6):e20263
Anderson WA, Amasino RM, Ares M Jr, Banerjee U, Bartel B, Corces VG, Drennan CL, Elgin SC, Epstein IR, Fanning E, Guillette LJ Jr, Handelsman J, Hatfull GF, Hoy RR, Kelley D, Leinwand LA, Losick R, Lu Y, Lynn DG, Neuhauser C, O'Dowd DK, Olivera T, Pevzner P, Richards-Kortum RR, Rine J, Sah RL, Strobel SA, Walker GC, Walt DR, Warner IM, Wessler S, Willard HF, Zare RN (2011) Competencies: A cure for pre-med. curriculum. Science 334: 760-761. Letter.
Moravec, M, A. Williams, N. Aguilar-Roca, D.K. O’Dowd (2010) Learn before lecture: A strategy that improves learning outcomes in a large introductory biology class. CBE-Life Science Education 9: 473-481.
Gu, H., S.A. Jiang, J.M. Campusano, J. Iniguez, H. Su, A.A. Hoang, M. Lavian, X. Sun, and D.K.O’Dowd (2009) Cav2-type calcium channels encoded by cac regulate AP-independent neurotransmitter release at cholinergic synapses in adult Drosophila brain. J. Neurophysiol. 101: 42-53.
Williams, A., N.M. Aguilar-Roca, M. Tsai, M. Wong, M. Moravec Beaupré, and D. K. O’Dowd (2011) Assessment of learning gains associated with independent exam analysis in introductory biology. CBE-Life Science Education 10: 346-356.
Hilgenberg, L.G.W, B. Pham, M. Ortega, S. Walid, T. Kemmerly, D.K. O’Dowd, and M.A. Smith (2009) Regulation of a3 sodium potassium ATPase activity modulates cardiac myocyte contraction, J. Biol. Chem. 284: 16956-65.
O’Dowd, D.K. and N. Aguilar-Roca (2009) Garage Demos: Using physical models to illustrate dynamic aspects of microscopic processes. Cell Biology Education 8: 118-122.
Aguilar-Roca, N., A. Williams, R. Warrior, D.K.O’Dowd (2009) Two minute training in class significantly increases the use of professional formatting in student to faculty email correspondence. IJSoTL: In press. http://academics.georgiasouthern.edu/ijsotl/
Sheeba, V.*, H. Gu*, V.K. Sharma, D.K.O’Dowd, and T. Holmes (2008) Circadian- and light-dependent regulation of resting membrane potential and spontaneous action potential firing of Drosophila circadian pacemaker neurons. J. Neurophysiol. 99: 976-88. *authors contributed equally to the work.
Sheeba, V., V.K. Sharma, H. Gu, Y-T Chou, D.K. O’Dowd, and T. Holmes (2008) Pigment Dispersing factor-dependent and –independent circadian locomoter behavioral rhythms. J. Neurosci, 28: 217-227.
Campusano, J.M., H. Su, S.A. Jiang, B. Sicaeros, D. K. O’Dowd (2007) nAChR-mediated calcium responses and plasticity in Drosophila Kenyon cells. Dev. Neurobiology 67: 1520-1532.
NIH RO1 (O'Dowd, PI) NINDS, #NS083009 Title: Functional studies of epilepsy mutations in Drosophila and human iPSC-derived neurons Award dates: 2/14-1/19
Professional Societies
Society for Neuroscience
Society for General Physiology
Graduate Programs
Cellular and Molecular Biosciences
Interdepartmental Neuroscience Program
Research Centers
Developmental Biology Center
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