Garrison Lab

Jennifer Garrison, PhD

Shedding light on the mechanisms by which neuropeptides regulate changes in both young and aging animals.

Lab focus

We want to understand how neuromodulators, specifically the long-range secreted signals called neuropeptides, influence behavior and aging. Neuropeptides transmit messages within the brain and across the nervous system to control vital physiologic processes like energy homeostasis, as well as motivational and emotional states such as sleep, arousal, pain, stress, and mood. We are developing new methods to monitor and manipulate neuropeptide signaling in living animals and also identifying the fundamental enzymes that regulate neuropeptide communication. We employ advanced imaging, genetic, and biochemical approaches to investigate these questions using both worm and mouse model systems. Our goal is to discover how age-related changes in neuropeptide signaling systems in the brain can influence whole-organism healthspan and longevity and to discover strategies to preserve neuropeptidergic signaling with age.

Why it matters

As animals age they exhibit correlated recognizable and predictable changes to their physiology. These changes occur nearly synchronously across multiple tissues. Alterations in neuropeptide signaling that lead to disruption of homeostasis may be one mechanism by which these concerted changes occur during aging. Understanding how neuropeptide signaling systems are regulated in the brain and how they change over time is essential for designing appropriate interventions to modulate aging-related chronic and degenerative conditions and for treating disorders characterized by behavioral dysfunction.

For more information:

As animals age they experience recognizable and predictable changes to their physiology that happen synchronously across tissues. We want to understand how age-related changes in the brain drive systemic aging.

Jennifer Garrison, PhD

The Garrison lab is pleased to acknowledge the generous support of the following major funders:

Jennifer Garrison is an assistant professor at the Buck Institute for Research on Aging and also holds appointments in the Department of Cellular and Molecular Pharmacology at University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) and the Davis School of Gerontology at the University of Southern California. During her doctoral studies at UCSF with Jack Taunton, she discovered the molecular target of a natural product and elucidated a novel mechanism by which small molecules can regulate protein biogenesis. As a postdoctoral fellow in Cori Bargmann's lab at Rockefeller University, she found that the nematode C. elegans produces a neuropeptide that is an evolutionary precursor of the mammalian peptides vasopressin and oxytocin, and she mapped a neural circuit by which this molecule, nematocin, modulates mating behavior. As an independent investigator, Dr. Garrison was named an Alfred P. Sloan Foundation Neuroscience Research Fellow and an Allen Institute for Brain Science Next Generation Leader. She also received a Maximizing Investigators' Research Award (MIRA) for Early Stage Investigators from the National Institutes of Health, a Glenn Award for Research in Biological Mechanisms of Aging, and a Junior Faculty grant from the American Federation of Aging Research.

  • Katelyn Adam  Laboratory Technician

  • Donna Dong  Lab Technician

  • Cyrus Ghiassi  Laboratory Intern

  • Courtney Hudson  PhD Candidate, USC-Buck Biology of Aging Program

  • Heeun Jang, PhD  Postdoctoral Research Scholar

  • Jacqueline Lo, PhD  Postdoctoral Research Fellow

  • Elizabeth Poznyakov  Laboratory Technician

  • Wenke Wang, PhD  Postdoctoral Research Scholar

Mary Redwine
Administrative Lab Coordinator
Phone: 415-209-2237
Selected Publications
  • Garrison, J. L., Knight, Z. A. (2017 Nov 10). Linking smell to metabolism and aging. Science, 358(6364), 718–19.
  • Garrison, J. L., Macoscko, E. Z., Bernstein, S., Pokala, N., Albrecht, D. R., Bargmann, C. I. (2012 Oct 26). Oxytocin/vasopressin-related peptides have an ancient role in reproductive behavior. Science, 338(6106), 540–3.
  • Knight, Z. A., Tan, K., Birsoy, K., Schmidt, S., Garrison, J. L., Wysocki, R. W., Emiliano, A., Ekstrand, M. I., Friedman, J. M. (2012 Nov 21). Molecular profiling of activated neurons by phosphorylated ribosome capture. Cell, 151(5), 1126–37.
  • McGrath, P T., Xu, Y., Ailion, M., Garrison, J. L., Butcher, R. A., Bargmann, C. I. (2011 Aug 17). Parallel evolution of domesticated Caenorhabditis species targets pheromone receptor genes. Nature, 477(7364), 321–5.
  • Bautista, D. M., Sigal, Y. M., Milstein, A. D., Garrison, J. L., Zorn, J. A., Tsuruda, P. R., Nicoll, R. A., Julius, D. (2008 Jul). Pungent agents from Szechuan peppers excite sensory neurons by inhibiting two-pore potassium channels. Nature Neuroscience, 11(7), 772–9.
  • Garrison, J. L., Kunkel, E. J., Hegde, R. S., Taunton, J. (2005 Jul 14). A substrate-specific inhibitor of protein translocation into the endoplasmic reticulum. Nature, 436(7048), 285–9.

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