Jeffrey B. Eells, Ph.D.

Jeffrey B. Eells

Associate Professor

office: Brody 7N-84
telephone: 252-744-2819

B.A., Miami University
Ph.D., Southern Illinois University
Postdoctoral Fellow, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill; National Institute for Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases


The focus of my research is on how environmental stressors that are linked with schizophrenia and other mental illnesses alter the regulation and function of dopamine neurotransmission and change behavior and cognitive function in mice. This work has primarily focused on the nuclear transcription factor Nurr1, which is necessary for normal development and continued function of mesencephalic dopamine neurons. One goal is to determine the mechanism of how Nurr1 expression and function is controlled in dopamine neurons and the consequences of changes in Nurr1 on dopamine neurotransmission. Currently, we are using viral vectors to target specific populations of dopamine to determine the consequences of changes in Nurr1 expression on dopamine neurotransmission. Additionally, we are investigating how two different environmental stressors, the early life stressor of post-weaning isolation in mice and infection with the protozoan parasite Toxoplasma gondii, both of which are risk factors for schizophrenia, alter Nurr1 expression, dopamine neurotransmission and behavior. Once we understand some of the ways these environmental stressors alter dopamine neurotransmission, we can investigate the potential of mitigating or reversing these effects to prevent or treat mental illnesses.

Current techniques utilized in these experiments include stereotaxic surgery in mice, immunohistochemistry, real-time qPCR, laser capture microdissection, HPLC for catecholamine analysis, behavioral tests for sensory processing, locomotor activity, working memory, episodic memory, spatial memory, anxiety and depression.

Selected Publications

Eells, J.B., J.A. Misler, and V.M. Nikodem. 2006. Reduced tyrosine hydroxylase and GTP cyclohydrolase mRNA expression, tyrosine hydroxylase activity, and associated neurochemical alterations in Nurr1-null heterozygous mice. Brain Res. Bull. 70: 186-195. PMID: 16782508

Gil, M., C. McKinney, M.K. Lee, J.B. Eells, M.A. Phyillaier, and V.M. Nikodem. 2007. Regulation of GTP-cyclohydrolase 1 gene expression by orphan receptor Nurr1 in cell culture and in vivo. J. Neurochem. 101: 142-150. PMID: 17394463

Moore, T.M., T. Brown, M. Cade, and J.B. Eells. 2008. Alterations in amphetamine-stimulated dopamine overflow due to the Nurr1-null heterozygous genotype and postweaning isolation. Synpase. 62: 764-774. PMID: 18655117

Eells, J.B. and T.W. Brown. 2009. Repeated developmental exposure to chlorpyrifos and methyl parathion causes persistent alterations in nicotinic acetylcholine subunit mRNA expression with chlorpyrifos altering dopamine metabolite levels. Neurotoxiol. Teratol. 31: 90-103. PMID: 18977431

Scott, V.L., L.A. Shack, J.B. Eells, P.L. Ryan, J.R. Donaldson, and K.S. Coats. 2011. Immunomodulator expression in trophoblasts from the feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV)-infected cat. Virol. J. 8: 336. PMID: 21729293

Eells, J.B., J. Wilcots, S. Sisk, and S.X. Guo-Ross. 2011. NR4A gene expression is dynamically regulated in the ventral tegmental area dopamine neurons and is related to expression of dopamine neurotransmission genes. J. Mol. Neurosci. 46: 545-553. PMID: 21932041

Kummari, E., S.X. Guo-Ross, and J.B. Eells. 2015. Laser capture microdissection – a demonstration of the isolation of individual dopamine neurons and the entire ventral tegmental area. J. Vis. Exp. 96: e52336. PMID: 25742438

Eells, J.B., A. Varela-Stokes, S.X. Guo-Ross, E. Kummari, H.M. Smith, E. Cox, and D.S. Lindsay. 2015. Chronic toxoplasma gondii in Nurr1-null heterozygous mice exacerbates elevated open field activity. PLoS ONE. 10: e0119280. PMID: 25855987

Yang, E.J., J.V. Stokes, E. Kummari, J. Eells, and B.L. Kaplan. 2016. Immunomodulation by subchronic low dose 2,3,7,8-Tetrachlorodibenzo-p-dioxin in experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis in the absence of pertussis toxin. Toxicol. Sci. 151: 35-43. PMID: 26822306

Carr, R.L., N.H. Armstrong, A.T. Buchanan, J.B. Eells, A.N. Mohammed, M.K. Ross, and C.A. Nail. 2017. Decreased anxiety in juvenile rats following exposure to low levels of chlorpyrifos during development. NeuroTox. 59: 183-190. PMID: 26642910

View PubMed Publications for further listings

Staff and Students

Location 7N-82

Name Title Phone Email
Makenzie Nutter Research Specialist 252-744-2823
Heath Partington Graduate Student 252-744-2823