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Molly M. Huntsman, PhD

Associate Professor, Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences, Skaggs School of Pharmacy; Department of Pediatrics, School of Medicine

Image of Molly Huntsman, PhD

Mailing address:

University of Colorado
Skaggs School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences
Mail Stop C238
12850 E. Montview Blvd. V20-3121
Aurora, CO 80045

Office Location:

Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences Building (V20)
3rd Floor
Room 3121

Lab Location:

Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences Building (V20)
Third Floor
Rooms 3271, 3460D, 3460E


Training and Education:

  • BS, University of Southern California
  • PhD, University of California, Irvine
  • Postdoctoral Fellow, Stanford University

Previous Academic Appointments:

  • Georgetown University, Washington DC (2002-2012)
  • The George Washington University, Washington DC (2009-2012, adjunct)


Society for Neuroscience, Member
American Epilepsy Society, Member

Research Interests:

The role of inhibitory neurotransmission in circuit formation and neurodevelopmental disorders

The overall goal of my research is to establish functional roles for specialized GABAergic inhibitory circuits in synaptic plasticity, the plasticity of the neuropathological process of disease and sensory circuit formation. I utilize animal models of disease and human epileptic tissue in order to determine a synaptic basis for brain dysfunction stemming from faulty inhibitory circuits. Inhibitory interneurons are a diverse population of brain cells that control the synchronization of excitatory networks.  Defective inhibitory control of excitatory neuron populations result in what can be collectively categorized as “synchronization disorders” such as: epilepsy, Fragile X Syndrome (an autism spectrum disorder) and schizophrenia. My studies seek to reveal new, fundamental roles of inhibition by the identification of cell-type-specific inhibitory circuits in the brain and how these circuits change in response to changes in activity.  Taken together these data implicate inhibition in mechanisms of plasticity in the re-organization of sensory maps and reveal circuit rearrangements underlying hyperexcitable states in neurodevelopmental disorders.

The current lab projects include three interrelated yet individual research themes:

1. Inhibitory synaptic transmission in Fragile X Syndrome and epilepsy.
Research papers on this topic

  • Olmos-Serrano JL, Paluszkiewicz SM, Martin B, Kaufmann W, Corbin JG and Huntsman MM (2010) "Defective GABAergic neurotransmision and pharmacological rescue of neuronal hyperexcitability in the amygdala in a mouse model of Fragile X Syndrome" Journal of Neuroscience 30, 9929-38.
  • Paluszkiewicz SM, Olmos-Serrano JL, Corbin JG, and Huntsman MM (2011) “Impaired inhibitory control of cortical synchronization in fragile x syndrome" Journal of Neurophysiology, 106:2264-72.
  • Vislay RL, Martin BS, Olmos-Serrano JL, Kratovac S, Nelson DL, Corbin JG, and Huntsman MM (2013) “Homeostatic Responses Fail to Correct Defective Amygdala Inhibitory Circuit Maturation in Fragile X Syndrome” Journal of Neuroscience 33: 7548-7558.
  • Martin BS, Corbin JG and Huntsman MM (2014) “Deficient tonic GABAergic conductance and synaptic balance in the Fragile-X Syndrome Amygdala” Journal of Neurophysiology, in press.

Review papers and book chapter on this topic:

  • Paluszkiewicz SM, Martin BS and Huntsman MM (2011) “The GABAergic system and circuit dysfunction” Developmental Neuroscience, 33:349-364.
  • Martin BS and Huntsman MM (2012) The Pathological Plasticity of Fragile X Syndrome. Neural Plasticity, 2012:1-12.
  • Martin BS and Huntsman MM (2014) Extra-synaptic GABAA receptors in Fragile X Syndrome: The cause or the cure? Book Chapter: “Extrasynaptic GABAA receptors” Springer Publishing (“The Receptors” series).

2. The role of fast synaptic inhibition in sensory map adjustments in the rodent primary somatosensory cortex.
Research papers on this topic:

  • Krook-Magnuson EI and Huntsman MM (2005) Excitability of cortical neurons depends upon a powerful tonic conductance in inhibitory networks. Thalamus and Related Systems 4:1-6.
  • Krook-Magnuson EI, Li P, Paluszkiewicz S and Huntsman MM (2008) Selective control of feedforward inhibitory circuits in barrel cortex Journal of Neurophysiology 100, 932-944.
  • Li P, Rudolph U and Huntsman MM (2009) Long-term sensory deprivation selectively rearranges functional inhibitory circuits in mouse barrel cortex. Proceedings National Academy Sciences 106: 12156-12161.
  • Li P and Huntsman MM (2014) “Two functional inhibitory circuits are comprised of a heterogeneous population of fast-spiking cortical interneurons”. Neuroscience 265:60-71

Review paper on this topic:

  • Krook-Magnuson EI and Huntsman MM (2007) The transience of interneuron diversity just sped up. Proceedings National Academy Sciences 104, 16723-16724.

3. Development and function of Dbx1-derived neural progenitors in the basal telencephalic limbic and olfactory systems.
Research papers on this topic:

  • Hirata T, Li P, Cocas L, Lanuza G, Huntsman MM and Corbin JG (2009) Identification of distinct progenitor pools for excitatory and inhibitory neuronal cell diversity in the amygdala. Nature Neuroscience 12:141-9.
  • Cocas, L., Miyoshi, G, Carney RSE, Sousa, VH, Hirata, T, Jones, K, Fishell, G, Huntsman MM and Corbin, JG. (2009) Emx1-lineage progenitors differentially contribute to neural diversity in the striatum and amygdala. Journal of Neuroscience, 29:15933-46.


Professional Program: PHRD 7250 (PharmM.D. Seminar Course) Department of Clinical Pharmacy, Skaggs School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences, University of Colorado | Anschutz Medical Campus

Graduate Program: NRSC 7670 (Genetics of Intellectual Disability), Department of Pediatrics, School of Medicine, University of Colorado | Anschutz Medical Campus

Full list of publications on PubMed​​​​