Brian Pierchala, PhD
Biologic & Materials Sciences
Brian Pierchala received his B.S. in Biochemistry from Oakland University in Michigan and obtained a Ph.D. in Neuroscience from the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. In the laboratory of David D. Ginty, his doctoral research investigated the ability of Nerve Growth Factor, a potent survival factor for sensory and sympathetic neurons, to support neuronal function when only activating receptors on axon terminals. His work on “retrograde” NGF signaling influenced the most widely accepted view of the field, namely that stable ligand-receptor complexes are trafficked in neurons over long distances to regulate biochemical events in the cell body necessary for survival, growth, and differentiation. Dr. Pierchala completed his postdoctoral training in the laboratory of Eugene M. Johnson, Jr. at Washington University School of Medicine in Saint Louis. There he investigated a newly discovered family of neuronal growth factors, the Glial Cell Line-derived Neurotrophic Factor (GDNF) Family Ligands (GFLs). He continued his investigation of GDNF signal transduction as an Assistant Professor at the State University of New York at Buffalo prior to his arrival to the Department of Biologic and Materials Sciences. His laboratory investigates the mechanisms of action of the GFLs in the development and maintenance of the nervous system and kidneys, as well as the therapeutic potential of the GFLs for injuries and diseases of the nervous system.
Dr. Pierchala is a Principle Investigator on research projects funded by the NIH and the NYS Spinal Cord Injury Research Board. While at the University at Buffalo, he served on the Executive committee in Biological Sciences, as well as on recruitment and university-wide research scholar committees. Dr. Pierchala has instructed undergraduate and graduate students in neurobiology, signal transduction, and cell biology. He has also served as a reviewer for 5 journals including The Journal of Neuroscience and The Journal of Neurochemistry.