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Principal Investigator


Dr. Beebe Smith is a Senior Investigator and Chief of the Section on Neuroadaptation and Protein Metabolism of the Intramural Research Program, National Institute of Mental Health, National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Maryland. Dr. Smith received a Ph.D. from the University of London where she studied the chemical pathology of Alzheimer's Disease with David Bowen, for which she was awarded the Queen Square Prize. She did postdoctoral training with Louis Sokoloff at NIMH, and in 1986 became a Senior Investigator within the Laboratory of Cerebral Metabolism, NIMH. In 2000 Dr. Smith was awarded an honorary degree from the University of Linköping for her work developing an in-vivo quantitative autoradiographic method for measurement of regional rates of cerebral protein synthesis in experimental animals. Dr. Smith and her team have adapted the method for use in human subjects with positron emission tomography. Dr Smith's group is currently studying mechanisms underlying brain dysfunction in fragile X syndrome and other neurodevelopmental disorders.

Research Interests

The research program of the Section on Neuroadaptation and Protein Metabolism studies the regulation of protein synthesis in nervous tissue in vivo.  We use quantitative autoradiography in experimental animals and positron emission tomography in human subjects to quantify regional rates of protein synthesis in brain in vivo under normal physiological and pathological conditions.  Specifically, we are applying this methodology to the study of adaptive responses of the nervous system and diseases in which adaptive responses malfunction.   Presently, research studies focus on two major issues:  1. Autism spectrum disorders in which a dysregulation of cerebral protein synthesis may underlie abnormal phenotypes and 2. The role of protein synthesis in sleep and memory consolidation.

Selected Publications

A mouse model of the fragile X premutation: effects on behavior, dendrite morphology, and regional rates of cerebral protein synthesis. Qin M, Entezam A, Usdin K, Huang T, Liu ZH, Hoffman GE, Smith CB. Neurobiol Dis. 2011 Apr;42(1):85-98. doi: 10.1016/j.nbd.2011.01.008. Epub 2011 Jan 8. PMID: 21220020.

Lithium ameliorates phenotypic deficits in a mouse model of fragile X syndrome. Liu ZH, Chuang DM, Smith CB. Int J Neuropsychopharmacol. 2011 Jun;14(5):618-30. doi: 10.1017/S1461145710000520. Epub 2010 May 25. PMID: 20497624.

Propofol anesthesia does not alter regional rates of cerebral protein synthesis measured with L-[1-(11)C]leucine and PET in healthy male subjects. Bishu S, Schmidt KC, Burlin TV, Channing MA, Horowitz L, Huang T, Liu ZH, Qin M, Vuong BK, Unterman AJ, Xia Z, Zametkin A, Herscovitch P, Quezado Z, Smith CB. J Cereb Blood Flow Metab. 2009 May;29(5):1035-47. doi: 10.1038/jcbfm.2009.7. Epub 2009 Feb 18. PMID: 19223912.

Regional rates of cerebral protein synthesis measured with L-[1-11C]leucine and PET in conscious, young adult men: normal values, variability, and reproducibility. Bishu S, Schmidt KC, Burlin T, Channing M, Conant S, Huang T, Liu ZH, Qin M, Unterman A, Xia Z, Zametkin A, Herscovitch P, Smith CB. J Cereb Blood Flow Metab. 2008 Aug;28(8):1502-13. doi: 10.1038/jcbfm.2008.43. Epub 2008 May 21. PMID: 18493259.

Postadolescent changes in regional cerebral protein synthesis: an in vivo study in the FMR1 null mouse. Qin M, Kang J, Burlin TV, Jiang C, Smith CB. J Neurosci. 2005 May 18;25(20):5087-95. PMID: 15901791.

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