About Randy Nelson
Professor & Chair
Hazel Ruby McQuain Chair for Neurological Research
Director, WVU Center for Foundational Neuroscience Research &Education
Executive Director of Basic & Foundational Neuroscience Research, Rockefeller Neuroscience Institute
- West Virginia University School of Medicine
- Department of Neuroscience
Hazel Ruby McQuain Chair for Neurological Research; Director, Basic Science Research
- West Virginia University School of Medicine
- Rockefeller Neuroscience Institute (SOM)
- PhD, Psychology, University of California, Berkeley
- PhD, Endocrinology, University of California, Berkeley
Follow our lab on Twitter: @DeVriesNelsonWV
- Bedrosian, T.A. & Nelson, R.J. 2017. Timing of light exposure affects mood and brain circuits. Translational Psychiatry, 7: e1017. PM28140399.
- Borniger, J.C., Walker, W.H., Gaudier-Diaz, M.M., Stegman, C., Zhang, N., Hollyfield, J.L., Nelson, R.J. & DeVries, A.C. 2017. Time-of-day dictates transcriptional inflammatory responses to cytotoxic chemotherapy. Scientific Reports, 7:1-11. PM28117419.
- Cisse, YM, Russart, KL, & Nelson, RJ. 2017. Parental exposure to dim light at night prior to mating alters offspring adaptive immunity. Scientific Reports, 31:1-10. PM28361901.
- Borniger J.C., Walker W.H., Surbhi, Emmer K.M., Zhang N., Zalenski A.A., Muscarella S.L., Fitzgerald J.A., Smith A.N., Braam C., Tial T., Magalang U., Lustberg M.B., Nelson RJ., DeVries A.C. 2018. A role for hypocretin/orexin in metabolic dysfunction in a mouse model of non-metastic breast cancer. Cell Metabolism, 27:1-12. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cmet.2018.04.021.
- Fonken, L.K., Bedrosian, T.A., Zhang, N., Weil, Z.M., DeVries, A.C., & Nelson, R.J. 2019. Dim light at night impairs recovery from global cerebral ischemia. Experimental Neurology, 317:100-109. doi.org/10.1016/j.expneurol.2019.02.008
- Walker, W.H., Zhang, N., Melendez-Hernandez, O.H., Pascoe, J., DeVries, A.C., & Nelson, R.J. 2020. Acute exposure to dim light at night is sufficient to induce neurological changes and depressive-like behavior. Molecular Psychiatry 25:1080-1093. doi: 10.1038/s41380-019-0430-4.
- Walker, W.H., Walton, J.C., DeVries, A.C., & Nelson, R.J. 2020. Circadian rhythm disruption and mental health. Translational Psychiatry, 10:28 doi: 10.1038/s41398-020-0694-0.
- Walton, J.C., Walker, W.H., Bumgarner, J.R., Melendez-Hernandez, O.H., Liu, J.A., Hughes, H.L., Kaper, A.L., & Nelson, R.J. 2021. Circadian variation in efficacy of medications. Clinical Pharmacology & Therapeutics, 109:1457-1488. DOI: 10.1002/cpt.2073
- Nelson, R.J. Bumgarner, J.B., Walker, W.H., & DeVries, A.C. 2021. Time-of-day as a critical biological variable. Neuroscience & Biobehavioral Reviews, 127:740-746. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.neubiorev.2021.05.017
Dr. Nelson holds the Hazel Ruby McQuain Chair for Neurological Research in the WVU School of Medicine and is director of basic science research in the WVU Rockefeller Neuroscience Institute, as well as across the University. He also leads the neuroscience PhD program as one of the seven biomedical science PhD programs at the Health Sciences Center, and serves as a professor and inaugural chair in the new Department of Neuroscience.
Dr. Nelson earned his AB and MA degrees in Psychology at the University of California, Berkeley. He earned a PhD in Psychology in 1983, as well as a second PhD in Endocrinology in 1984, both from UC Berkeley. Dr. Nelson then completed a postdoctoral fellowship at the Institute for Reproductive Biology at the University of Texas, Austin.
Dr. Nelson served on the faculty at The Johns Hopkins University from 1986 until 2000, where he was a professor of psychology, neuroscience, biochemistry, and molecular biology. He then served on the faculty at The Ohio State University from 2000 - 2018, during which time he served as Distinguished University Professor, as well as the co-director of both the Neuroscience Research Institute (2014-2018) and the Neuroscience Graduate Studies Program (2003-2009). He was also the faculty lead of the Chronic Brain Injuries Discovery Theme.
Dr. Nelson has published over 400 research articles and more than 10 books describing studies in biological rhythms, behavioral neuroendocrinology, and immune function. Current studies focus on circadian rhythms. Circadian rhythms are endogenous biological rhythms of about 24 hours and are a fundamental characteristic of life. Although life evolved over the past 3-4 billion years under bright days and dark nights, humans have been able to interrupt this natural light-dark cycle for the past 130 years or so with bright light at night. The laboratory studies the effects of these disrupted circadian rhythms on several parameters including immune function, neuroinflammation, metabolism, sleep, and mood. Current projects in the lab include: prenatal and early life effects of light at night on metabolism and immunity, and disruption of circadian rhythms on neuroinflammation associated with cardiac or cancer development and treatments.