Nicole Claiborne


Position Title
Graduate Student

  • Neuroscience Graduate Group
  • Major Professor: Karen Zito

Research Description

Glutamatergic stimulation of dendritic spines has been shown to stabilize new spines and decrease or increase the size and synaptic strength of spines. Such changes are considered a vital component of brain circuit plasticity and integral to learning and the formation of new memories. Nicole’s research aims to determine the cellular and molecular mechanisms by which glutamatergic stimulation induces the stabilization of new dendritic spines, with the ultimate goal of improving our understanding of the cellular changes that underlie learning and memory. The data Nicole has collected to date strongly support the hypothesis that the activity-dependent stabilization of new dendritic spines requires non-enzymatic activity of the kinase CaMKIIα. Future experiments are designed to elucidate the pathway through which the scaffolding/structural roles of CaMKIIα support new spine stabilization. This work will provide a greater understanding of the process of learning and the formation of stable memories.

Education and Degree(s)
  • B.S. in Neuroscience from University of Nevada, Reno -2017
Honors and Awards
  • Gilliam Fellowship for Advanced Study from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI)- 2020-2023
  • Stein IS, Park DK, Claiborne N and Zito K. 2021. Non-ionotropic NMDA receptor signaling gates bidirectional structural plasticity of dendritic spines. Cell reports, 34:108664. PMCID: PMC7952241
Membership and Service
  • Seminar for Minority Advocacy (SOMA) Committee Member -2021-22
  • NeuroFest- 2019
  • Elementary School Neuroscience Outreach Visit - 2019
  • Neuroscience Initiative to Enhance Diversity (NIED) - 2019