Roberta Diaz Brinton


R. Pete Vanderveen Chair in Therapeutic Discovery and Development
Professor of Pharmacology and Pharmaceutical Sciences, Biomedical Engineering and Neurology
Norris Foundation Laboratory for Neuroscience Research
Director, USC STAR Science Education Program
Director Preclinical Translation & Regulatory Support, SC Clinical & Translational Science Institute

Roberta Diaz Brinton

Research Topics

  • Cellular Neurobiology
  • Neurogenetics
  • Pharmacology
  • Learning & Memory
  • Aging

Research Images

Research Overview

Our research has two levels of expression, elucidation of fundamental cellular mechanisms of cognitive function and the application of those principles to the discovery and design of therapeutic molecules and devices for the treatment of disorders of the nervous system. Our research team is currently focused on design of an estrogen replacement therapy for the brain, neurogenesis from neural stem cells, design of molecules for the treatment of learning disability, DNA repair in neurons and regulation of the immune response in brain. For further details regarding our ongoing research projects, our research team and publications the reader is referred to the Brinton Laboratory web site at

For those interested in science education outreach efforts by USC Life Science Graduate Students please see the USC Science, Technology and Research - STAR Program web site at

Contact Information

Mailing Address 9121 HSC
Office Location PSC 502
Office Phone (323) 442-1430
Lab Location
Lab Phone
Fax (323) 442-1740
Office Location PSC 502



  • BA(Honors) 1979 Psychobiology - University of Arizona
  • MA 1981 Neuropsychology - University of Arizona
  • PhD 1984 Psychobiology & Neuropharmacology - University of Arizona

Selected Publications

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  • Brinton RD, Yao J, Yin F, Mack WJ, Cadenas E. Perimenopause as a neurological transition state. Nat Rev Endocrinol. 2015 Jul;11(7):393-405. doi: 10.1038/nrendo.2015.82. Epub 2015 May 26. PubMed Link
  •  Klosinski L, Yao J, Yin F, Harrington M, Christensen T, Trushina E, Brinton RD, White Matter Lipids as a Ketogenic Fuel Supply in Aging Female Brain: Implications for Alzheimer's Disease EBioMedicine 2015 Nov 3 doi:10.1016/j.ebiom.2015.11.002
  • Yin F, Yao J, Sancheti H, Feng T, Melcangi RC, Morgan TE, Finch CE, Pike CJ, Mack WJ, Cadenas E, Brinton RD. The perimenopausal aging transition in the female rat brain: decline in bioenergetic systems and synaptic plasticity. Neurobiol Aging. 2015 Apr 1. pii: S0197-4580(15)00198-0. doi: 10.1016/j.neurobiolaging.2015.03.013.
    PubMed Link
  • Rettberg JR, Yao J, Brinton RD. Estrogen: A master regulator of bioenergetic systems in the brain and body. Front Neuroendocrinol. 2014 Jan;35(1):8-30. PubMed Link
  • Yao, J., Rettberg, J.R., Klosinski, L.P. Cadenas, E and Brinton, R.D.  Shift in brain metabolism in late onset Alzheimer's disease: Implications for biomarkers and therapeutic interventions. Mol Aspects Med. 2011 Aug;32(4-6):247-57. Epub 2011 Oct 21. PubMed Link
  • Yao J, Irwin RW, Zhao L, Nilsen J, Hamilton RT, Brinton RD, Mitochondrial bioenergetic deficit precedes Alzheimer's pathology in female mouse model of Alzheimer's disease. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2009 Aug 25;106(34):14670-5. Epub 2009 Aug 10. PubMed Link
  • Brinton, RD Neurosteroids as Regenerative Agents in Brain: Therapeutic Implications, Nature Endocrine Reviews. 2013 Feb 26. doi: 10.1038/nrendo.2013.31.
    PubMed Link
  • Irwin RW, Solinsky CM, Brinton RD. Frontiers in therapeutic development of allopregnanolone for Alzheimer's disease and other neurological disorders. Front Cell Neurosci. 2014 Jul 30;8:203.  PubMed Link
  • Yao J, Brinton RD. Targeting mitochondrial bioenergetics for Alzheimer's prevention and treatment. Curr Pharm Des. 2011;17(31):3474-9. PubMed
  • Yao J, Chen S, Mao Z, Cadenas E, Brinton RD. 2-Deoxy-D-glucose treatment induces ketogenesis, sustains mitochondrial function, and reduces pathology in female mouse model of Alzheimer's disease. PLoS One. 2011;6(7):e21788. Epub 2011 Jul 1.