Associate Professor of Gerontology
Assistant Dean of Education
Postdoctoral Training, University of California – Los Angeles, 1987
PhD, University of Texas School of Medicine at Houston, 1985
BS, University of California at Irvine, 1979
John Walsh, PhD, is an Associate Professor of Gerontology and a member of the Neuroscience Program at USC. He received his undergraduate degree in biology from the University of California, Irvine, and was awarded a PhD in physiology and biomedical sciences from the University of Texas School of Medicine in Houston. Walsh’s research focuses on the electrophysiological analysis of brain areas that are targets of age-related disease. Studies on aging, calcium, and free radical physiology are performed in Dr. Walsh’s laboratory as they relate to changes in synaptic plasticity and cell behavior. His research also examines how toxic environmental challenges affect nerve cell populations typically lost in Parkinson’s disease, Huntington’s disease, and Alzheimer’s disease.
The focus of the Walsh laboratory is to understand dopamine and glutamate synaptic physiology in the striatum under normal and pathological conditions. The lab uses the analysis of short and long-term synaptic plasticity at corticostriatal synapses to study striatal pathology and rely upon whole-cell voltage clamp, intracellular and field potential recordings in the analysis. The Walsh lab also uses fast-cyclic voltammetry to study dopamine physiology in the same brain slices. A parallel study is being performed in aged animals to describe how aging impacts synaptic integration and the mechanisms for any observed changes caused by the aging process.
A second interest in the laboratory is to describe the modulation of synaptic function and key conductances in striatal neurons following the generation of reactive oxygen species (ROS) under conditions of hypoxia. Part of this NIH funded study uses the complex II inhibitor 3-nitropropionic acid (3-NP) to examine acute and long-term survival and the synaptic consequences of chemical hypoxia.
The Walsh lab also has been studying the impact of MPTP treatment on striatal physiology in mice and squirrel monkeys in collaboration with Drs. Mike Jakowec and Giselle Petzinger from USC’s Department of Neurology.
These research interests are connected by the underlying hypotheses that aging and disease create shifts in ROS homeostasis, which possibly follow similar pathways in the striatum.
Walsh spends his free time surfing in southern Orange County.
Gero 200 Gerontology: The Science of Adult Development (4, FaSp) Introduction to adult development through the lifespan; biological, psychological, and social processes; gerontology as a career for the future.
Gero 414 Neurobiology of Aging (4, Fa) Age-related changes in nervous system structure and function; relationship of brain changes to changes in cognitive function and perception; Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases. Lecture and discussion. Prerequisite: BISC 220L or BISC 221L.