Dr. Jeremy Alden Teissere
Stanley Road Professor of Neuroscience
I teach because I believe that people can be fundamentally changed by their learning. I don’t mean in the sense of “becoming something,” like a doctor or an actor or a hedge-fund manager. I mean helping students to uncover—and then to take responsibility for— their own singular voice. I want students to become suspicious of easy or uncomplicated “professional success,” emancipate themselves from the dogmatic expectations of careers and discover what they can and cannot honestly give to the world.
Part of my excitement of being at Muhlenberg derives from the pleasure it has been to work with my colleagues to build our neuroscience program across the last decade. We now have one of the most highly enrolled neuroscience majors at a liberal arts college in the United States and are one of three stand-alone neuroscience departments at a primarily undergraduate institution. Neuroscience intersects with numerous disciplines in the natural sciences and philosophy, and so when we introduce courses, we’re introducing subjects of enormous (and fascinating) interdisciplinary breadth, from neurotransmitters to consciousness. The list below of courses that I teach gives you a sense of what I mean.
How are synaptic chemical signals transduced (meaning “conveyed” or ”transferred”) within the nervous system? How do drugs bind to and activate their receptor targets? I use a multidisciplinary approach, including biochemical, molecular biological, pharmacological and physiological approaches to examine these questions.
The current focus of my laboratory is investigating the biochemical basis of anxiety. In particular, we are resolving the structure and function of neurotransmitter receptors that are targeted by anxiety-reducing drugs. Our conclusions have the potential to provide a more fundamental and specific understanding of the neural underpinnings of premenstrual syndrome, postpartum depression and post-traumatic stress disorder.
In collaboration with Dr. Christine Ingersoll, professor of chemistry, we are also working to identify the key chemical constituents of plants that reduce anxiety. This research has been supported by a variety of fellowships from the National Institutes of Mental Health, the Sentience Foundation and Muhlenberg College.
I regularly collaborate with my students in the lab; much of their work has contributed to our understanding of the molecular basis of anxiolysis (meaning “reduced anxiety”) and has resulted in honors theses, manuscripts and poster presentations at regional and national meetings.