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Mario A Penzo, Ph.D.

Unit on the Neurobiology of Affective Memory

Building 35A Room 2E621
35 Convent Drive MSC3748
Bethesda MD 20892
Office: 301-451-7296

Dr. Penzo obtained his Ph.D. at Albert Einstein College of Medicine with support from an NRSA training grant and completed his postdoctoral fellowship at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory where he received the Harvey L. Karp Discovery Award. He joined the National Institute of Mental Health in September of 2015. Dr. Penzo’s lab is currently investigating the neuronal mechanisms underlying the formation and regulation of affective memories. To do so his group combines various technical approaches, which include behavioral assays, electrophysiology, neuroanatomy and optogenetics.

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  • 1) Penzo, MA#, Robert V, Tucciarone, J, De Bundel, D, Wang, M, Van Aelst, L, Darvas, M, Parada, L, Palmiter, R, He, M, Huang, ZJ, Li, B# (2015)
  • The paraventricular thalamus controls a central amygdala fear circuit
  • Nature (#Corresponding author)
  • 2) Penzo, MA*, Robert, V*, Li, B (2014)
  • Fear conditioning potentiates synaptic transmission onto long-range projection neurons in the lateral subdivision of central amygdala
  • Journal of Neuroscience, 34(7): 2432-7 (*Equal contribution)
  • 3) Ferchmin, PA, Perez, D, Castro-Alvarez, W, Penzo, MA, Maldonado, HM, Eterovic, VA (2013)
  • γ-Aminobutyric acid A receptor inhibition triggers a nicotine neuroprotective mechanism
  • Journal of Neuroscience Research, 91(3), 416-25
  • 4) Li, H*, Penzo, MA*, Taniguchi, Huang, ZJ, Li, B (2013)
  • Experience- dependent modification of a central amygdala fear circuit
  • Nature Neuroscience, 16(3): 332-9 (*Equal contribution)(recommended by
  • 5) Penzo, MA#, Peña, JL (2011)
  • Depolarization-induced suppression of spontaneous release in the avian midbrain
  • Journal of Neuroscience, 31(10):3602-9 (#Corresponding author)
  • 6) Penzo, MA, PeÑa, JL (2009)
  • Endocannabinoid-mediated LTD in the avian midbrain expressed pre- and postsynaptically
  • Journal of Neuroscience, 29(13): 4131-9
  • 7) Ferchmin, PA, Hao, J, Perez, D, Penzo, M, Maldonado, HM, González, MT, Rodríguez, AD, de Vellis, J (2005)
  • Tobacco cembranoids protect the function of acute hippocampal slices against NMDA by a mechanism mediated by alpha4beta2 nicotinic receptors
  • Journal of Neuroscience Research, 82(5), 631-41
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