top of page

"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?

research approach

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





bottom of page