• Loyola University Chicago

    Sodhi Laboratory

  • Location

    2160 S. 1st Ave. Maywood, IL 60153

  • Our Research

    Our mission is to understand the molecular basis of psychiatric disorders that increase the risk of suicide.

    Glutamatergic genes in schizophrenia

    Studies of the glutamate system in the thalamocortical circuitry

    Accumulating data support the glutamate hypothesis of schizophrenia. Our investigations have led to the discovery of reduced expression of glutamatergic genes in laser-captured relay neurons of the medial dorsal thalamus (pictured on the right). These results indicate that the thalamocortical circuitry is disrupted in schizophrenia, perhaps underpinning the disorganized thought exhibited by schizophrenia patients (Sodhi et al., 2011).

    Sex differences in major depression and suicide

    Gene expression analyses reveal that female patients with depression may have elevated expression of glutamate receptor genes in the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex. This region is important for executive function and is likely to play a critical role in antidepressant response. Both males and females who died by suicide appeared to have increased expression of the genes encoding GluN2B (GRIN2B), GluK3 (GRIK3) and mGluR2 (GRM2). These data indicate that the glutamatergic system contains many targets for antidepressant drug development (Gray et al., 2015). The glutamate synapse is illustrated on the right.

    RNA editing of glutamate and serotonin receptors in mood disorders and psychosis

    RNA editing is altered in suicide and in animals exposed to stress

    RNA editing is a process by which sequence changes are created in specific mRNAs and microRNAs after transcription. RNA editing alters the structure and signal transduction of AMPA, kainate and 5-HT2C receptors. thus simultaneously modulating 5-HT and glutamatergic transmission.


    Structural alterations produced by RNA editing are illustrated on the left. Several studies, including our own, reveal abnormalities of RNA editing in psychiatric illness (Akbarian et al., 1995; Kawahara et al., 2004; Sodhi et al., 2001; Simmons et al., 2010; Lyddon et al., 2013; Dracheva et al., 2008; Gurevich et al., 2002; Niswender et al., 2001).


    Studies also indicate that RNA editing is altered after antipsychotic (Sodhi et al., 1995) and antidepressant drug treatment (Gurevich et al., 2002; Barbon et al., 2006). However, RNA editing has been associated with stress and anxiety in animal models (Hackler et al., 2006; Brande-Eilat et al., 2015; Bombail et al., 2014; Martin et al., 2013; Mombereau et al., 2010; Bhansali et al., 2007; Englander et al., 2005).


    These data indicate that RNA editing may contribute to the susceptibility for psychosis and mood disorders, in addition to the mechanisms of action of psychotropic drugs.

    Identification of genomic predictors of suicide risk.

    Analyses of psychiatric patient populations

    Brain Collection for Psychiatric Disorders

    IGNITE Award project

    Monsheel Sodhi launched a collection of postmortem brain tissue from psychiatric patients and subjects from the general population. The Brain Collection is located at UIC and will help scientists to answer critical questions about the biology underpinning suicide and psychiatric disorders, by comparing different regions of the brains of psychiatric patients with those of non-psychiatric individuals.

  • Laboratory

    Our top notch team!

    Monsheel Sodhi Ph.D.

    Principal Investigator

    Monsheel obtained her Bachelor of Pharmacy and her PhD at the University of London, and completed her postdoctoral training at the University of Oxford Department of Psychiatry and Vanderbilt University Department of Pharmacology.

    Greg Bristow D.Phil.

    Postdoctoral Scientist

    Greg Bristow received his doctoral training at the University of Oxford Department of Psychiatry and is a postdoctoral scientist in the Sodhi Lab. Greg is interested in investigating the molecular basis of cognitive dysfunction in the human brain. Greg has published one first author paper and has two papers in preparation since he joined the lab.

    Banafshe Samani M.S.

    Visiting Research Scholar

    Banafshe joined the Sodhi Lab in 2014. She completed her Master's degree in Chemistry at the University of Isfahan, Iran. She is investigating RNAseq data in psychiatric illness and is interested in pursuing doctoral level training in Chemistry in 2016.

    Evelyn Nwabuisi-Heath Ph.D.

    Postdoctoral Scientist

    Evelyn is a Postdoctoral Research Scientist in the Sodhi Lab. She is interested in studying the role of altered ADAR enzyme activity in glutamatergic synaptic dysregulation and neuropsychiatric disorders.

    Sarah Khan

    Honors College Undergraduate Scientist

    Sarah is an undergraduate student and is investigating 5-HT receptor gene expression in schizophrenia. Sarah will enter medical school after graduation.

    Madiha Khan B.S.

    Graduate Research Assistant

    Madiha joined the lab during the summer of 2014. She has earned her Bachelor of Science in Neuroscience degree and began her Doctor of Pharmacy studies at UIC in the fall of 2015.

    Wenyi (Chris) Qin B.S.

    Graduate Student

    Chris is a graduate student at the UIC Department of Bioengineering. Chris is interested in identifying gene expression signatures of psychiatric disorders. Chris published his research project in 2016.

  • John A. Bostrom B.S.

    Research Specialist 2010-2012

    Jack joined the lab in the summer of 2010 and graduated from Gettysburg College in May 2011 with a BS in Biology and a minor in Chemistry. Jack achieved two first author publications as a result of his research and he is currently attending medical school at the University of Massachusetts.

    Michelle N. Vierra B.S.

    Research Specialist 2012-3

    Michelle joined the Sodhi lab in January 2012 and earned her Bachelor of Science degree in Biological Sciences. She studies the expression of ADAR enzymes in psychiatric disorders in the Sodhi lab. She is co-author on two papers in preparation and won a Society for Neuroscience Travel Award for her research in 2013. She is currently working for Dovetail Genomics.

    Julie Do B.S.

    Undergraduate Scientist 2013-4

    Julie performed undergraduate research in the Sodhi lab and graduated with a B.S. in Biochemistry in 2014. She is currently pursuing a Pharm D at the UIC College of Pharmacy.

    Yoshimi Nomura B.S.

    Undergraduate Scientist 2012-4

    Yoshimi conducted undergraduate research focused on glutamate receptor gene expression in psychiatric illnesses. She is entering a PharmD course in 2016.

    Anna Bobrowska Ph.D.

    Postdoctoral Scientist 2012

    Anna completed an MSc in Molecular Biology at the International Max Planck Research school in Goettingen, Germany and her PhD at King's College London, UK. She is currently pursuing a career in scientific publishing in London.

    Angel Gray-Shah Ph.D.

    Postdoctoral Scientist 2012-4

    Angel completed both her BS in Psychology and Neuroscience and her PhD at Loyola University Chicago, IL. Her research on the molecular mechanisms of depression and suicide resulted in a first author publication in Molecular Psychiatry in 2015. Angel is currently in a leadership role at Community Therapy Services.

    Jennifer Melbourne M.Sc.

    Research Assistant 2013

    Jenni joined the Sodhi Lab during 2013 and is interested in the mechanisms underlying schizophrenia and psychosis. She completed her undergraduate degree in Neuroscience at Cardiff University and her Master's degree in Mind, Language, and Embodied Cognition at the University of Edinburgh. She is currently pursuing a PhD in the Graduate Program in Neuroscience at UIC.

    Sean Munoz B.S.

    Medical Student Scientist

    Sean is a medical student at the UIC College of Medicine. He is interested in neuroscience research regarding the underlying molecular mechanisms of psychiatric disorders and aspires to be a physician-scientist.

    Daniel Mount B.S.

    Research Assistant 2010-2011

    Daniel graduated from UAB with a BS in Psychology. He has conducted a variety of genetic and transcriptional experiments in postmortem human tissue and drug-treated animals in the Sodhi Lab. He is currently a graduate student in Alabama.

    Kavita Nadendla B.S.

    Undergraduate Scientist 2009-2011

    Kavita has conducted research on RNA editing in the Sodhi Lab. She completed degrees in both Biology and Neuroscience. She was awarded the distinction of Outstanding Student for 2012 by the UAB Undergraduate Neuroscience Program due to her excellent grades and participation in undergraduate research. She is completing her medical degree at UASOM in 2016.

    Julie Bucek B.S.

    Pharm.D. Student

    Julie is a PharmD student at the UIC College of Pharmacy. She is interested in pharmacogenetics and its relevance to the treatment of depression.

  • News and media

    Highlights of achievements

    Evelyn Nwabuisi-Heath presenting her research to Patrick Kennedy

    Launch of the UI Center on Depression and Resilience.

    The findings reported add to growing support for the strategy of targeting glutamate receptors in the treatment of depression and suicidal behavior. Moreover, these findings may have implications for differential treatment response in males and females treated with antidepressants targeting the glutamate system.

    UIC College of Pharmacy Research Day 2014

    Evelyn Nwabuisi-Heath presenting her poster. This research was extended to include studies of prenatal stress in an animal model and won a Chicago Society for Neuroscience poster award in 2014. Evelyn also received a CBC postdoctoral award in 2014 for this project.

    UIC Student Research Forum 2013

    Yoshimi Nomura, presentation of undergraduate research.

    UIC Student Research Forum 2013

    Michelle Vierra, presentation of undergraduate research. Michelle extended this work and received a Society for Neuroscience Travel Award at the annual SfN meeting in 2013.

    Vahlteich Research Award 2013

    Award presented for the project:

    Discovering Novel Targets for the Treatment of Major Depression

    The Impact of RNA Editing on Suicide Risk

    News interview on receipt of an American Foundation for Suicide Prevention Young Investigator Award. 2009-11.

    Undergraduate Research Forum, 2010

    Jack Bostrom received first prize for his poster. He subsequently published this work in the journal Schizophrenia Research.

  • Selected Publications

    2010-2016 (from a total of 25 peer-reviewed papers)

    Meta-analysis of sex differences in gene expression in schizophrenia.

    Qin W, Liu C, Sodhi MS, Lu H.

    BMC Systems Biology, (2016) 10 (Suppl 1):9 doi 10.1186/s12918-015-0250-3

    Sex differences in glutamate receptor gene expression in major depression and suicide.

    Gray A.L., Hyde T.M., Deep-Soboslay A., Kleinman J.E., Sodhi M.S.

    Molecular Psychiatry (2015) 20, 1057-1068; doi:10.1038/mp.2015.91. PMID: 26169973.

    Genetic variation of BDNF is associated with antipsychotic induced weight gain syndrome in schizophrenia.

    Bonaccorso, S., Sodhi, M.S., Jayathilike, K., and Meltzer, H.Y.

    Bipolar Disorders, in press. DOI: 10.1111/bdi.12294. PMID: 25874530.

    Sex differences in GABAergic gene expression occur in the anterior cingulate cortex in schizophrenia.

    Bristow, G, Bostrom, JA, Haroutunian, V, Sodhi, MS

    Improvement in Safety Monitoring of Biologic Response Modifiers After the Implementation of Clinical Care Guidelines by a Specialty Pharmacy Service in an Academic Health System.

    Hanson R, Gannon M, Khamo N, Sodhi MS, Orr A, Stubbings J.

    Journal of Managed Care Pharmacy, 19 (1): 49-67. PMID: 23383700

    A Look to the Future: Epigenetics in Psychiatric Disorders and Treatment

    Bostrom JA, Sodhi MS

    In: Lam YWF, Cavallari LH (eds). Pharmacogenomics: Challenges and Opportunities in Therapeutic Implementation. Elsevier Inc: Maryland Heights, MO. p.225-246.

    Glutamatergic gene expression is specifically reduced in thalamocortical projecting relay neurons in schizophrenia

    Sodhi MS, Simmons M, McCullumsmith RE, Haroutunian V., Meador-Woodruff, J.

    Biological Psychiatry 70:646-54. PMID: 21549355


    This paper is recommended on the Faculty of 1000 website by Dr. Francine Benes, Professor of Psychiatry, Harvard University, Boston, MA. The citation and link for this recommendation are below:

    Benes F and Konopaske G: In F1000Prime, 23 Aug 2011; DOI: 10.3410/f.12119957.14119054.


    Epigenetics and schizophrenia.

    Roth T,, Lubin F,, Sodhi M,S, and Kleinman J.E.

    Biochim Biophys Acta;1790(9):869-77. PMID: 19559755

    Increased cortical expression of an RNA editing enzyme occurs in major depressive suicide victims

    Simmons, M, Meador-Woodruff, J, Sodhi MS.

    Neuroreport 21(15): 993-7. PMID: 20802353

  • Vacancies

    Graduate students

    Graduate studies in Neuroscience

    Monsheel Sodhi is a member of the graduate faculty and is actively recruiting students from the Ph.D., MD/ Ph.D. and MS programs at Loyola University. Please contact Dr. Sodhi for more information about projects and application procedures.


    Postdoctoral trainees


    Employer: Loyola University Chicago, Stritch School of Medicine.

    The Department of Molecular Pharmacology and Therapeutics at Loyola University Chicago is recruiting postdoctoral scientists for a newly funded project investigating stress-related psychiatric illness.


    Description: We are seeking highly motivated and creative scientists to join a dynamic research team exploring fundamental questions about the molecular basis of psychiatric illness, using both basic science and clinical translational approaches. Projects will be data-driven, using a reverse translational approach. We aim to consolidate data generated from human studies (including investigations of postmortem human brain) using animal models and cell culture techniques. The latter include primary neurons and patient-specific iPSC cells. Our projects provide opportunities to become proficient in state-of-the-art techniques such as next generation sequencing, gene editing, behavioral pharmacology, high-throughput drug screening and eQTL


    Salary is commensurate with experience, at the NIH Scale. Our laboratory is within the new, state-of-art Center for Translational Research and Education at the Health Sciences campus of Loyola University, located close to the downtown area of Chicago, with excellent public transport. The University provides a generous benefits package (for more information please see http://www.luc.edu/hr/uahprogram.shtml).


    Qualifications: Candidates who have graduated with PhD or MD/PhD degrees within the last 4 years, with a strong record of peer-reviewed publications (including at least one first author publication) are encouraged to apply. Expertise in some of the following areas is essential: genomics, neuroanatomy, cell biology and behavioral pharmacology. Good verbal and written communication skills in English are also essential. The PI and our collegial team of experts will provide mentoring, supervision and intensive training.


    To apply: Interested individuals should email a CV/ resume and cover letter including details of research experience and career goals to msodhi@luc.edu. Informal enquiries are welcome. The positions will remain open until filled.

    Loyola University Chicago is an equal opportunity employer. We encourage minorities, women, veterans and individuals with disabilities to apply.

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