Fadi Issa

Title: Assistant Professor
Area of Study: Neurobiology and Behavior
Phone: (252) 328-5446
Fax: (252) 328-4178
Office: N418 Howell Science Complex
Address: Department of Biology
East Carolina University
Greenville, NC 27858


Post-Doctoral:UCLA School of Medicine, 2009-2014

PhD:Biology, Georgia State University, 2008

BS:Biology, Georgia State University, 1997

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Research Interests:

Our research focus is two-tiered. On one level we aim to understand how the nervous system develops and organizes itself to produce adaptive behavior. Toward this end, we use zebrafish as a model system to investigate the cellular interactions between two brain circuits: the cerebellum, which is involved in regulating rhythmic swimming and the startle escape circuit, which controls the animals' ability to escape from predators. Secondly, we investigate the effects of neurodegenerative diseases on nervous system function and behavior paying particular attention to cerebellar degeneration and how swimming is hindered. We are hopeful that studying the underlying effects of one neurodegenerative disease will shed light on the underlying causes of other neurological diseases. We utilize genetically encoded calcium imaging, electrophysiological, cellular and behavioral techniques to address these aims.

Another exciting line of research we are interested in pursuing is to investigate the effects of how social interactions and the ensuing social hierarchies that emerge influence brain function. We are interested with addressing the question of how animals of different social standing adapt their behavior to fit their social rank, and how their behavior is reflected in changes in brain function. We are utilizing zebrafish to address how particular brain regions are modified functionally during social interactions. Our aim is to improve our understanding of how social aggression/submission morph brain function.


Hsieh JY, Ulrich B, Issa FA, Wan J, Papazian DM. (2014). Rapid development of Purkinje cell excitability, functional cerebellar circuit, and afferent sensory input to cerebellum in zebrafish. Front Neural Circuits; 8:147.

Bacque-Cazenave J*, Issa FA*, Edwards DH, Cattaert D. (2013). Spatial segregation of excitatory and inhibitory effects produced by 5-HT cell on depressor motoneurons of the crayfish walking leg postural circuit. Journal of Neurophysiology 109 (11): 2793-802. (*Equal first authorship).

Issa FA, Mock AF, Sagasti A, Papazian DM (2012). Spinocerebellar ataxia type 13 mutation that is associated with disease onset in infancy disrupts axonal pathfinding during neuronal development. Disease Models & Mechanisms 5(6): 921-9.

Issa FA, Drummond JM, Cattaert D, Edwards DH (2012). Neural circuit reconfiguration by social status. The Journal of Neuroscience 32(16): 5638–5645.

Issa FA, Mazzochi C, Mock A, Papazian DM (2011). Spinocerebellar ataxia type 13 mutant potassium channel causes locomotor deficits in zebrafish. The Journal of Neuroscience 31(18): 6831-41.

Issa FA, O'Brien G, Kettunen P., Sagasti A., Glanzman D.L., Papazian D.M. (2011) Neural circuit activity in freely-behaving zebrafish (Danio rerio). The Journal of Experimental Biology 214(6): 1028-38.

Cattaert D, Delbecque JP, Edwards DH, Issa FA (2010). Social status determines postural network sensitivity to 5HT. The Journal of Neuroscience 30(16): 5603-5616.

Issa FA, Edwards DH (2006). Ritualized submission and the reduction of aggression in an invertebrate. Current Biology 16(22): 2217-2221.

Edwards DH, Issa FA, Herberholz J (2003). The neural basis of dominance hierarchy formation in crayfish. Microscopy Research & Technique 60(3): 369-76.

Herberholz J*, Issa FA*, Edwards DH (2001). Pattern of neural circuit activation during dominance hierarchy formation in freely behaving crayfish. The Journal of Neuroscience 21(8): 2759-2767. (*Equal first authorship).

Drummond JM, Issa FA, Song C-K, Herberholz J, Yeh SR, Edwards DH (2000). Neural Mechanisms of Dominance Hierarchies in Crayfish. In: Physiology of the Crustacean nervous system, Wiese K (ed), Springer Verlag.

Issa FA*, Adamson DJ*, Edwards DH (1999). Dominance hierarchy formation in juvenile crayfish (Procambarus clarkii), Journal of Experimental Biology 202(24): 3497-3506. (*Undergraduate authors).

Courses Taught:


Laboratory Personnel

I recently arrived at ECU, and I'm interested with having motivated students (undergraduates, MS, or PhD candidates) to join the lab. Feel free to drop me an email with a brief statement of your research interests.