"To extend our understanding of neural function to the most complex human physiological and psychological activities, it is essential that we first generate a clear and accurate view of the structure of the relevant centers, and of the human brain itself, so that the basic plan— the overview — can be grasped in the blink of an eye."
— Santiago Ramon y Cajal
Michael S. Bienkowski, PhD
Mike received his B.S. from the University of Pittsburgh (2007) where he developed a love of scientific research while working in the laboratory of Dr. Linda Rinaman. Mike continued in Dr. Rinaman's laboratory as a graduate student in the University of Pittsburgh Center for Neuroscience and Center for Neural Basis of Cognition at Carnegie Mellon University. After graduating with his PhD in 2012, Mike immediately began postdoctoral research working on the Mouse Connectome Project in the laboratory of Dr. Hong-Wei Dong, first at the University of California, Los Angeles and then at the University of Southern California Mark and Mary Stevens Neuroimaging and Informatics Institute. Mike created the Hippocampus Gene Expression Atlas (HGEA) to drive investigations of Alzheimer's disease and epilepsy as an Assistant Professor of Research Neurology within the Keck School of Medicine of USC.
University of Southern California (2013-2019)
University of California, Los Angeles (2012-2013)
Advisor: Hong-Wei Dong, PhD
PhD in Neuroscience (2007-2012)
University of Pittsburgh
Advisor: Linda Rinaman, PhD
B.S. in Neuroscience with honors (2003-2007)
University of Pittsburgh
awards and honors
"Best images of 2017" in Spectrum=
NIH/NIMH Ruth L. Kirschstein NRSA Individual Postdoctoral Fellowship (F32 MH107071)
Andrew Mellon Predoctoral Fellowship
NIH Institutional Digestive Diseases Training Grant (T32 DK063922)
James E. Bradler Jr. Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Research
Research projects and goals
My research is dedicated toward understanding brain architecture and How neural circuits are disrupted by alzheimer's disease and epilepsy
Major research questions
What are the different neuronal cell-types of the limbic system and how do they wire together to form systems-level networks that influence our behavior?
How is the mammalian hippocampus organized as a whole structure across species and what is the relationship between hippocampal gene expression, connectivity, and function?
Which specific hippocampal cell types are disrupted by Alzheimer's disease and epilepsy?
Neuroanatomical Circuit tracing
3-D multiphoton and lightsheet microscopy
multiple Classic Anterograde and retrograde tracers
Multiphoton imaging of rabies labeled neurons
aav and rabies viral tracing
connectomics and network analyses
zingg et al, 2014, cell
Bienkowski et al, 2018, Nature neuroscience
A single interneuron in the polymorph region of the hippocampal Dentate Gyrus bridges the two blades of Dentate gyrus granule cells.
Green fluorescent neurons in the CA1 and Subiculum have dendrites which span the stratum radiata and stratum lacunosum-moleculare
Fluorescent fibers from three different parts of the subiculum cascade down the fornix. Upon entering the thalamus the different fibers twist, allowing the pink fibers the inside position.