Featured Researcher Dr. Kathy MagnussonKathy Magnusson is an Associate Professor in the Department of Biomedical Sciences, College of Veterinary Medicine. She began working at OSU in April 2005. Previously, she was an Associate Professor in the Department of Biological Sciences, College of Science and in the WWAMI Medical Education Program at the University of Idaho, as well as an Affiliate Faculty member in the Department of Biological Structure, School of Medicine, University of Washington. She earned her Ph.D. and D.V.M. at the University of Minnesota. Dr. Magnusson describes her research below.

My Research

I'm an aging neuroscientist, in more ways than one. I'm interested in how we can prevent or repair the declines that occur during aging in learning and memory ability. I'm hoping to figure this out before I forget what the question is.

We've been characterizing changes in the expression of a receptor that is very important for the formation of memories, the N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA) receptor. This receptor uses glutamate as a transmitter. The NMDA receptor shows greater declines in binding of glutamate with increased age than any of the other glutamate receptors. We've found relationships between NMDA receptor binding and expressions of two NMDA receptor subunits, epsilon2 and epsilon1, during aging. We've also shown associations between age-related changes in NMDA binding densities and subunit expressions and declines in both working (short-term) and reference (long-term) memory ability.

We are continuing to characterize the changes that occur in the NMDA receptor with increasing age. We are planning to look at the functional consequences of decreased expression of the epsilon2 subunit, specific changes in the splice variants of the zeta1 subunit, and the different effects of exercise, learning and caloric restriction on NMDA receptor expression. We are also trying to determine exactly what role NMDA receptors in the prefrontal cortex play in different forms of memory. Ultimately we want to discover the mechanisms underlying the age-related changes in the NMDA receptor.

My main goal is trying to find interventions into aging that will help to maintain the quality of life into old age. I'm also interested in helping to better understand the function of the NMDA receptor in different brain regions.

Current research projects

RO1 AG16322-5 Magnusson (PI)
NIH / National Institute on Aging
Subunit Changes in Aging NMDA Receptors Affect Memory

R15 NS038444-03 Collaborating Investigator
Nick Natale at University of Idaho (PI)
NIH Isoxazoles to explore the glutamate receptors