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Reha S. Erzurumlu, PhD

Academic Title:


Primary Appointment:




Phone (Primary):

(410) 706-7401


(410) 706-2512

Education and Training

Ankara University (Turkey), Lisans, Philosophy, 1972

Washington University (St Louis, MO), MA, Physiological Psychology, 1975

University of California (Irvine, CA), PhD, Biological Sciences,  1981

Brown University (Providence, RI), Center for Neuroscience, Postdoctoral Associate, 1985-87

MIT (Cambridge, MA),  Brain and Cognitive Sciences, Postdoctoral Associate, 1987-1990



Dr. Erzurumlu is a developmental and systems neuroscientist. Subsequent to his postdoctoral studies, he was appointed as Research Scientist (1990-1994) at MIT. He joined the faculty of the Department of Cell Biology and Anatomy and the Neuroscience Center for Excellence at the Louisiana State University Health Sxciences Center in New Orleans in 1994 as Associate Professor. He was promoted to full Professor in 1999 and served as the Vice Chair for Research between 2004-2006. He joined the Department of Anatomy and Neurobiology at the UMSOM in 2006. Dr. Erzurumlu's research focuses on development and plasticity of the somatosensoiry system, using rodent models. His research has been continuously funded by the NIH/NINDS since his postdoctoral years. His laboratory uses a multipronged approach to discover mechanisms underlying development, organization, and function of the mammalian sensory systems. Currently, Dr. Erzurumlu serves as the Director for SOM Neuroscience and GPiLS Systems and Cognitive Neuroscience courses.

Research/Clinical Keywords

Cellular and molecular mechanisms underlying axon-target interactions in mammalian sensory pathways. Molecular mechanisms of sensory axon elongation and arborization. Activity-dependent refinement of synaptic connections. NMDA receptor-mediated development and patterning of sensory maps. Recent research focuses on the development and plasticity of the cerebral cortex and somatosensory pathways. We use molecular biology, in vitro and in vivo electrophysiology, imaging, neuroanatomy and behavioral techniques to understand mechanisms underlying development of topographic maps, neural patterning, plasticity and neonatal injury-induced alterations in the trigeminal system.

Highlighted Publications

Arakawa H, Suzuki A, Zhao S, Tsytsarev V, Lo FS, Hayashi Y, Itohara S, Iwasato T, Erzurumlu RS (2014) Thalamic NMDA receptor function is necessary for patterning of the thalamocortical somatosensory map and sensorimotor behaviors. J. Neurosci, 34:12001-14.

Arakawa H, Akkentli F, Erzurumlu RS (2015) Region-specific disruption of Adenylate Cyclase Type 1 gene differentially affects somatosensorimotor behaviors in mice, Dec 30; 1(1). pii:

Tang Q, Tsytsarev V, Liang CP, Akkentli F, Erzurumlu RS, Chen Y (2015) In vivo voltage-sensitive dye imaging of subcortical brain function. Sci Rep, Nov 27; 5:17325.

Lo FS, Blue ME, Erzurumlu RS (2016) Enhancement of postsynaptic GABAA and extrasynaptic NMDA receptor-mediated responses in the barrel cortex of Mecp2 null mice. J. Neurophysiol, 2016 Mar; 115 (3):1298-306.

Lo FS, Erzurumlu RS (2016) Sensory activity-dependent and sensory activity-independent properties of the developing rodent trigeminal principal nucleus. Dev Neurosci, Jun 9 [Epub ahead of print]

Additional Publication Citations

Tang Q, Tsytsarev V, Frank A, Wu Y, Chen CW, Erzurumlu RS, Chen Y. (2016) In Vivo Mesoscopic Voltage-Sensitive Dye Imaging of Brain Activation.Sci Rep. 2016 Apr 29;6:25269. doi: 10.1038/srep25269.

Lo FS, Erzurumlu RS, Powell EM. (2016) Insulin-Independent GABAA Receptor-Mediated Response in the Barrel Cortex of Mice with Impaired Met Activity. J Neurosci. 2016 Mar 30;36(13):3691-7. doi: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.0006-16.2016.

Erzurumlu RS. (2016) CNS consequences of perinatal peripheral injuries. Exp Neurol. 2016 Jan;275 Pt 2:243-4. doi: 10.1016/j.expneurol.2015.07.007.

Lo FS, Erzurumlu RS. (2016) Neonatal sensory nerve injury-induced synaptic plasticity in the trigeminal principal sensory nucleus. Exp Neurol. 2016 Jan;275 Pt 2:245-52. doi: 10.1016/j.expneurol.2015.04.022.

Arakawa H, Erzurumlu RS. (2015) Role of whiskers in sensorimotor development of C57BL/6 mice. Behav Brain Res. 2015;287:146-55. doi: 10.1016/j.bbr.2015.03.040.

Suzuki A, Lee LJ, Hayashi Y, Muglia L, Itohara S, Erzurumlu RS, Iwasato T. (2015) Thalamic adenylyl cyclase 1 is required for barrel formation in the somatosensory cortex. Neuroscience. 2015 Apr 2;290:518-29. doi: 10.1016/j.neuroscience.2015.01.043

Lo FS, Zhao S, Erzurumlu RS. (2014) Neonatal infraorbital nerve crush-induced CNS synaptic plasticity and functional recovery. J Neurophysiol. 2014 Apr;111(8):1590-600. doi: 10.1152/jn.00658.2013.

Gaspar P, Erzurumlu R. (2013) The birth of the barrels. Dev Cell. 2013 Oct 14;27(1):3-4. doi: 10.1016/j.devcel.2013.09.028.

Lo FS, Akkentli F, Tsytsarev V, Erzurumlu RS. (2013) Functional significance of cortical NMDA receptors in somatosensory information processing. J Neurophysiol. 2013 Dec;110(11):2627-36. doi: 10.1152/jn.00052.2013.

Liao LD, Tsytsarev V, Delgado-Martínez I, Li ML, Erzurumlu R, Vipin A, Orellana J, Lin YR, Lai HY, Chen YY, Thakor NV. (2013) Neurovascular coupling: in vivo optical techniques for functional brain imaging. Biomed Eng Online. 2013 Apr 30;12:38. doi: 10.1186/1475-925X-12-38. Review.

Tsytsarev V, Arakawa H, Borisov S, Pumbo E, Erzurumlu RS, Papkovsky DB (2013). In vivo imaging of brain metabolism activity using a phosphorescent oxygen-sensitive probe J Neurosci Meth, 216:146-51.

Mirza R, Kivrak BG, Erzurumlu RS. (2013) Cooperative slit and netrin signaling in contralateralization of the mouse trigeminothalamic pathway. J Comp Neurol, 521:312-25.

Kivrak BG, Erzurumlu RS. (2013) Development of the principal nucleus trigeminal lemniscal projections in the mouse. J Comp Neurol, 521:299-311.

Erzurumlu RS, Gaspar P. (2012) Development and critical period plasticity of the barrel cortex. Eur J Neurosci, 35: 1540-53.

Lo FS, Zhao S, Erzurumlu RS. (2011) Astrocytes promote peripheral nerve injury-induced reactive synaptogenesis in the neonatal CNS. J Neurophysiol, 106:2876-87. PMC3234085

Lo FS, Erzurumlu RS. (2011) Peripheral damage does not alter release properties of developing central trigeminal afferents. J Neurophysiol, 105:1681-8. PMCID: PMC3075289

Xiang C, Zhang KH, Yin J, Arends JJ, Erzurumlu RS, Jacquin MF, Chen ZF. (2010) The transcription factor, Lmx1b, is necessary for the development of the principal trigeminal nucleus-based lemniscal pathway. Mol Cell Neurosci, 44:394-403. PMCID: PMC2904324

Erzurumlu RS. (2010). Mechanisms of plasticity in the development of cortical somatosensory maps. In Developmental and Comparative Neuroscience: Epigenetics, Evolution, & Behavior. (M.S. Blumberg, J.H. Freeman, S.R. Robinson, eds.) Oxford University Press, pp. 342-356.

Erzurumlu RS, Murakami Y, Rijli FM. (2010) Mapping the face in the somatosensory brainstem. Nat Rev Neurosci, 11:252-63. PMCID: PMC3545448

Sanno H, Shen X, Kuru N, Bormuth I, Bobsin K, Gardner HA, Komljenovic D, Tarabykin V, Erzurumlu RS, Tucker KL. (2010) Control of postnatal apoptosis in the neocortex by RhoA-subfamily GTPases determines neuronal density. J Neurosci, 30:4221-31. PMCID: PMC2852171 

Awards and Affiliations

Honors and Awards      

Fulbright Fellow, Washington University, St. Louis, MO. 1973-1975. Chercheur d’Haute Niveau, République Française Ministère de Recherche, 2001-2002. Professeur en sabatique, Écoles des Neurosciences Île de Paris, France, 2010.  European Federation of Experimental Morphology (EFEM) Lecturer, XXIV International Symposium on Morphological Sciences, 2015. L&N Distinguished Lecturer, UVA School of Medicine, 2015. Opening Lecturer, 17th National Anatoimy Congress, Eskisehir, Turkey, 2016.

Professional Affiliations

Society for Neuroscience, International Brain Research Organization, American Association for the Advancement of Science, American Physiological Society.

Grants and Contracts


NIH/NINDS R01 NS39050, Erzurumlu (PI), 4/01/00-12/31/14. Somatosensory cortical development and plasticity.

NIH/NINDS R01 NS37070, Erzurumlu (PI), 8/01/98-7/30/15. Cellular mechanisms underlying pattern formation.

NIH/NINDS R01 NS084818, Erzurumlu (PI), 2/01/14-1/31/19. Consequences of developmental defects in somatosensory map formation.

NIH/NINDS R01 NS092206, Erzurumlu (PI) 9/01/2015-8/31/2020. Thalamocortical circuit defects in developmental brain disorders.

Professional Activity

 National and International Service

Co-organizer, Neural Development and Plasticity Symposium, New Orleans, LA, 1995. Organizer, Thalamocortical Development and Organization Symposium, New Orleans, LA, 1997. President, Greater New Orleans Society for Neuroscience Chapter, 1998-1999. Co-Director, International Summer School on Developmental Neuroscience Izmir, Turkey, 1999-2013. Member, Society for Neuroscience Committee on Neuroscience Literacy, 2000-2003. Member, NASA Life Sciences Division, Developmental Biology Study Section 2001-2002. Organizer, Short Course for High School Students, Society for Neuroscience, Committee on Neuroscience Literacy 2001-2003. Co-organizer, Development and Plasticity of Sensory Thalamus and Cortex, Satellite Symposium, Society for Neuroscience Meeting, New Orleans, LA, 2003. Member, Society for Neuroscience Committee on Government and Public Affairs, 2002-2005. Chair, Society for Neuroscience Chapters Committee, 2002-2005. Co-Chair, Scientific Symposia, FENS, Paris, France (2002); FENS, Geneva, Switzerland (2008). Ad hoc Reviewer, NIH/NINDS NDPR Study Section, 2008 - 2015. Regular Member, NIH/SCS Study Section, 2011-2015. Chair, NIH/SCS Study Section, 2015-2016. Member, Society for Neuroscience International Affairs Committee, Global Membership Committee, 2013-2016.