Anatomy and Neurobiology
Education and Training
Lab website: https://www.calulab.com/
Reward, learning, motivation, attention, decision-making, addiction, obesity, individual differences, amygdala, insular cortex, striatum, dopamine, in vivo electrophysiology, optogenetics, chemogenetics, fiber photometry, dopamine sensing
Full list of publications via PubMed
Keefer, SE, Gyawali, U., Calu, DJ. (2021). Choose your path: Divergent basolateral amygdala efferents differentially mediate incentive motivation, flexibility and decision-making. Behav. Brain Res.;409:113306. doi: 10.1016/j.bbr.2021.113306. Online ahead of print.
Kochli, DE, Keefer, SE Gyawali, U, Calu, DJ. (2020) Basolateral Amygdala to Nucleus Accumbens Communication Differentially Mediates Devaluation Sensitivity of Sign- and Goal-Tracking Rats. Front. Behav. Neurosci. 14:593645.
Gyawali, UG, Martin, DA, Sulima, A, Rice, KC, Calu, DJ. (2020) Role of BNST CRFR1 receptors in incubation of fentanyl seeking. Front. Behav. Neurosci. 14:153. https://doi.org/10.3389/fnbeh.2020.00153
Martin, DA, Gyawali, U, Calu, DJ. (2020) Effects of 5-HT 2A Receptor Stimulation on Economic Demand for Fentanyl After Intermittent and Continuous Access Self-Administration in Male Rats. Addict Biol. 2020 May 26; e12926. doi: 10.1111/adb.12926. Online ahead of print.
Keefer SE, Bacharach, SB, Kochli, DE, Chabot, JM, Calu, DJ. (2020) Effects of limited and extended Pavlovian training on devaluation sensitivity of sign-and goal-tracking rats. Front. Behav. Neurosci., 04 February 2020 | https://doi.org/10.3389/fnbeh.2020.00003 *Featured in editors pick 2021
Bacharach, SZ*, Nasser, HM*,Zlebnik, NE, Dantrassy, HM, Cheer, JF, Calu, DJ. (2018) Cannabinoid receptor-1 signaling contributions to sign-tracking and conditioned reinforcement in rats. Psychopharmacology doi: 10.1007/s00213-018-4993-6.
Nasser, HM, Lafferty, DL, Lesser, EN, Bacharach, SZ, Calu, DJ. (2017). Disconnection of basolateral amygdala and insular cortex disrupts conditioned approach in Pavlovian lever autoshaping. Neurobiology of Learning and Memory. 2017 Nov 21;147:35-45.
Nasser, HM*, Chen, YW*, Fiscella, KA, Calu, DJ. (2015) Individual variability in behavioral flexibility predicts sign-tracking tendency.Frontiers in Behavioral Neuroscience. Nov 3; published online.
Chen, YW, Fiscella, KA, Bacharach, SZ, Tanda, G, Shaham, Y, Calu, DJ. (2014) Effect of yohimbine on reinstatement of operant responding in rats is dependent on cue contingency but not food reward history. Addiction Biology. Epub ahead of print Jul 27, 2014.
Chen, YW, Fiscella, KA, Calu, DJ. (2014) Effect of cafeteria diet history on cue-, pellet-priming-, and stress-induced reinstatement of food seeking in female rats. PLoS One. Jul 15; 9(7):e102213.
Calu DJ, Kawa AB, Marchant NJ, Navarre BM, Henderson MJ, Chen B, Yau H-J, Bossert JM, Schoenbaum G, Deisseroth K, Harvey BK, Hope BT, Shaham Y. (2013) Optogenetic inhibition of dorsal medial prefrontal cortex attenuates stress-induced reinstatement of palatable food seeking in female rats. Journal of Neuroscience. 33(1):214-26.
Calu, DJ, Roesch, MA, Haney, RZ, Holland, P.C., Schoenbaum, G. (2010). Neural correlates of variations in event processing during learning in central nucleus of amygdala. Neuron. 68(5);991-1001.
Roesch MA, Calu DJ, Esber GR, Schoenbaum G. (2010) Neural correlates of variations in event processing during learning in basolateral amygdala. Journal of Neuroscience. 30(7):2464-71.
Calu, DJ*, Roesch MA*, and Schoenbaum G. (2007) Dopamine neurons encode the better option in rats deciding between differently delayed or sized rewards. Nature Neuroscience. 10(12):1615-24.
*Authors contributed equally to the work.
Additional Publication Citations
Behavioral and Systems Neuroscience aimed at elucidating the brain mechanisms underlying individual differences in reward learning, motivation, addiction vulnerability and neuropsychiatric disorders.
We study the brain mechanisms underlying individual differences in natural reward learning, motivation, and behavioral flexibility. We combine classic and modern techniques to examine real-time neural activity in awake, behaving rats as they perform reward learning tasks. We manipulate neural activity to demonstrate a causal role for specific brain circuitry in driving motivated and flexible behaviors. We examine the possibility that competing brain systems drive individual differences in cognitive strategies used for reward learning, with the ultimate goal of understanding vulnerability to addiction and neuropsychiatric disease.
Awards and Affiliations
2001-03 University of Maryland; Biology Academic Honors
2003-04 Research Assistant; Department of Molecular Pathology, Walter Reed Army
Institute of Research, Silver Spring, MD
2004-10 Graduate Research Assistant; University of Maryland School of Medicine,
2007-10 National Research Service Award; National Institute of Mental Health
2010 PhD Thesis Project Award; University of Maryland Graduate Program in Life
2010 Top Junior Investigator Data Presentation; Winter Conference on Brain Research
2010-11 Postdoctoral Fellow; Intramural Research Training Award; NIH/NIDA/IRP,
2011-15 Early Independent Scientist; NIH/NIDA/IRP, Baltimore MD
2011 Early Independent Scientist Position; National Institutes of Health; NIDA-IRP
2011 Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory Course on Cell Biology of Addiction; Selected
2013 Excellence in Scientific Research, Toni Shippenberg Fellow Award, NIDA-IRP
2013 Winter Conference in Brain Research Travel Fellowship, WCBR 2014
2015- Assistant Professor, UMSOM; Research Collaborator, NIH/NIDA/IRP
2016 Outstanding Young Scientist, Maryland Science Center, Maryland Academy of Sciences
2017 Nominated by UMSOM for Blavatnik National Awards for Young Scientist, Life Sciences Category
2019 PECASE: Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers
Alumnus Award, University of Maryland Graduate Program in Life Sciences
Grants and Contracts
2011-2015 Early Independent Scientist, National Institute of Health, National Institute
on Drug Abuse Intramural Research Program
2017-2019 NARSAD Young Investigator Award, Brain and Behavior Research Foundation
2017-2020 McKnight Memory and Cognitive Disorders Award
2017-2023 R01 NIDA, 1R01DA043533-01A1, PECASE
In the News
PECASE awarded to Donna Calu (Gogerdchi; Maryland) also featured in SOM BUZZ
University of Maryland School of Medicine (UMSOM) / University of Maryland, Baltimore (UMB)
2016- present Thesis committee member (1-2 committees/yr), Program in Neuroscience, UMB
Qualifying Exam Committee member (1-2 committees/yr), Program in Neuroscience, UMB
Advisory committee member(1-2 committees/yr), Program in Neuroscience, UMB
Interviewer for Medical School Admissions (5-10 applicants/yr)
2016-2017 School of Medicine Council, Alternate member for Department of Anatomy & Neurobiology
Nomination review committee for GPILS and OPS Awards, Program in Neuroscience Faculty representative
2017- present Chair of Neurobiology Seminar Series for Department of Anatomy and Neurobiology
Program in Neuroscience Retreat Committee member, UMB
2017- 2018 Co-Chair Anatomy and Neurobiology Faculty Search Committee
2017-2019 Program in Neuroscience Seminar Committee member
2018-2019 School of Medicine Council, Representative for Department of Anatomy & Neurobiology
2018-2020 Program in Neuroscience Curriculum Committee member
2018- present Chair of Program in Neuroscience Retreat
Chair of Neurobiology Seminar Series, Department of Anatomy and Neurobiology
Program in Neuroscience Training Committee member, Admissions Committee
2019-2020 School of Medicine Council, Alternate for Department of Anatomy & Neurobiology
2020- 2021 Anatomy and Neurobiology Chair for Neuroscience, Anatomy, Pharmacology, and Physiology Seminar Series (virtual seminar series jointly held by listed departments)
2021-present Medical Scientist Training Program (MSTP) Admissions Committee
2010-2013 F1000 Associate Faculty Member, post-publication review contributor (4-5/yr)
2014 Outreach lecturer to disadvantaged and special education high school students; Winter Conference on Brain Research School Outreach Program, Colorado
2015 Poster Judge, Greater Baltimore Society for Neuroscience Meeting, UMB, MD
2016 International Thesis Reader, PhD, University of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia
2016 Poster judge, International Behavioral Neuroscience Society Meeting, Budapest, Hungary
2018 Poster Judge, Greater Baltimore Society for Neuroscience Meeting, The Johns Hopkins University, MD
2018-present Laboratory demonstration for NOVA Baltimore City Schools Fall Lab Tour, UMSOM, MD
2019 Poster judge, Graduate Research Conference, Amygdala in Health and Disease, MA
2019-2020 Mock Study Section for Graduate NRSA (2 students), UMB, Baltimore MD
2020-present Mentor, Women in Learning Mentor Program, Pavlovian Society
2021 Mentor, MiNDS Mentor Mid-Atlantic Neuroscience Diversity Scholars Program; NIH funded program for undergraduates that are under-represented minorities in sciences, UMSOM
2021 Poster judge, Graduate Research Conference, Baltimore, MD (virtual)
Download CV for Mentoring, Teaching, and Invited Lectures
Local and National Service
Journal Review Ad Hoc
2010-present Ad Hoc reviewer for Journal of Neuroscience (1-10x/yr), Neuroscience (1-2x/yr)
2012-present Ad Hoc reviewer for Addiction Biology (1x/yr)
2014- present Ad Hoc reviewer for Behavioral Neuroscience (1-3x/year)
2015- present Ad Hoc reviewer for Frontiers in Behavioral Neuroscience (1-5/yr), Neuropsychopharmacology (1-3/yr)
2016-present Ad Hoc reviewer for Behavioural Brain Research (1-3x/yr)
2017-present Ad Hoc reviewer for Scientific Reports (1x), Synapse (1x), Neuropharmacology (1x/yr), Cell Reports (1x)
2018-present Ad Hoc reviewer for Behavioral Processes (1x), Neurobiology of Learning and Memory (1-2/yr), Nature Communications (1x)
2019-present Ad Hoc reviewer for Progress in Neuropsychopharmacology and Biological Psychiatry (1x), Physiology and Behavior (1-3x/yr), Journal of Experimental Psychology: Animal Learning and Cognition (1-2x/yr), eLife (1-2x/yr)
2021 Ad Hoc reviewer for eNeuro (1x)
2021 Ad Hoc reviewer for International Journal of Nueropsychopharmacology (1x)
2018-present Associate Editor for Journal of Neuroscience (4-8x/year)
2020-present Review Editor for Decision Neuroscience; Frontiers in Neuroscience, Frontiers in Psychology (4-8x/yr)
2021-present Review Editor for Frontiers in Behavioral Neuroscience, Learning and Memory (4-8x/year)
NIH Grant Peer Review
2019 Ad Hoc grant reviewer for Center on Compulsive Behaviors NIAAA/NIDA/NIMH IRP Study Section for Postdoctoral Fellowships
2021 Ad Hoc grant reviewer for Neurobiology of Motivated Behavior (NMB) NIH Study Section
International and Conference Program Peer Review
2013 Ad Hoc grant reviewer for French National Research Agency
2015 Ad Hoc grant reviewer for Israel Science Foundation
2016 Ad Hoc grant reviewer for Marsden Fund, Royal Society of New Zealand
2017 Abstract Reviewer for program selection; Cosyne Annual Meeting
2012 Panel Chair, “Controlling the brain with light: An optogenetic approach to study the neural circuit basis of behavior,” Winter Conference on Brain Research, Snowbird, UT
2017 Panel Chair, “Complimentary Computational and Experimental Approaches for Understanding Sign- and Goal-Tracking Trait Differences,” Big Sky, MT
2018 Panel Chair, “Associative brain mechanisms underlying adaptive and maladaptive behavior,” International Behavioral Neuroscience Society meeting, Boca Raton, FL
Scientific Panels/Workshops/ Special Symposiums
2014 Lecturer, NIDA Summer Student Seminar Series, Baltimore, MD
2015 Panelist, “Future of the PhD,” Academic Path representative, NIDA IRP, Baltimore, MD
2018 Panelist, “Future of the PhD,” Academic Path representative, NIDA IRP, Baltimore, MD
2018 Panelist, “New Faculty Panel,” Office of Postdoctoral Scholars and the GPILS/OPS Career and Professional Development, UMB, Baltimore, MD
2019-2020 Panelist, “Hypothesis Testing”, Proseminar Course, Program in Neuroscience, UMB, Baltimore, MD
2020 Panelist, “Career Development Panel,” Graduate Research Seminar, ME, cancelled due to pandemic
Lab Techniques and Equipment
- Rodent behavioral models of learning, decision-making, addiction and stress
- In vivo electrophysiology for neural recording, in awake, behaving rats
- In vivo fiber photometry for dopamine sensing, in awake, behaving rats
- Brain circuit manipulation via optogenetics and chemogenetics
- Anatoimcal tracing and immunohistochemistry for idenfication of specific biomarkers in brain circuitry