Roberta Diaz Brinton

Roberta Diaz Brinton, PhD

R. Pete Vanderveen Chair in Therapeutic Discovery and Development

Pharmacology and Pharmaceutical Sciences

Research Topics

  1. Cellular Neurobiology
  2. Neurogenetics
  3. Pharmacology
  4. Learning & Memory
  5. Aging

Contact Information


BA(Honors) 1979 Psychobiology - University of Arizona
MA 1981 Neuropsychology - University of Arizona
PhD 1984 Psychobiology & Neuropharmacology - University of Arizona

Roberta Diaz Brinton

Research Interest

Our research has two levels of expression, elucidation of fundamental cellular mechanisms of cognitive function and the application of those principles to the discovery and design of therapeutic molecules and devices for the treatment of disorders of the nervous system. Our research team is currently focused on design of an estrogen replacement therapy for the brain, neurogenesis from neural stem cells, design of molecules for the treatment of learning disability, DNA repair in neurons and regulation of the immune response in brain. For further details regarding our ongoing research projects, our research team and publications the reader is referred to the Brinton Laboratory web site at

For those interested in science education outreach efforts by USC Life Science Graduate Students please see the USC Science, Technology and Research - STAR Program web site at


Professor Brinton earned her Ph.D. in Psychobiology and Neuropharmacology from the University of Arizona as a National Institutes of Health Predoctoral fellow. She continued her postdoctoral research in Neuroendocrinology at Rockefeller University as a National Institutes of Health postdoctoral fellow and joined the USC faculty in 1988.

Dr. Roberta Diaz Brinton is the R. Pete Vanderveen Endowed Chair in Therapeutic Discovery and Development and Professor of Pharmacology and Pharmaceutical Sciences, School of Pharmacy and Biomedical Engineering at the University of Southern California. She is the Director of the USC Science, Technology and Research Program (STAR) science education outreach program. Dr. Brinton is also the Director of the Center for Scientific Translation within the Los Angeles Basin Clinical Translational Science Institute whose partner institutions include the University of Southern California, Childrens Hospital Los Angeles, Kaiser Permanente of Southern California and City of Hope.

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Selected Projects/Publications

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Brinton RD, Yao J, Yin F, Mack WJ, Cadenas E. Perimenopause as a neurological transition state. Nat Rev Endocrinol. 2015 Jul;11(7):393-405. doi: 10.1038/nrendo.2015.82. Epub 2015 May 26. PubMed -Link

 Klosinski L, Yao J, Yin F, Harrington M, Christensen T, Trushina E, Brinton RD, White Matter Lipids as a Ketogenic Fuel Supply in Aging Female Brain: Implications for Alzheimer's Disease EBioMedicine 2015 Nov 3 doi:10.1016/j.ebiom.2015.11.002

Yin F, Yao J, Sancheti H, Feng T, Melcangi RC, Morgan TE, Finch CE, Pike CJ, Mack WJ, Cadenas E, Brinton RD. The perimenopausal aging transition in the female rat brain: decline in bioenergetic systems and synaptic plasticity. Neurobiol Aging. 2015 Apr 1. pii: S0197-4580(15)00198-0. doi: 10.1016/j.neurobiolaging.2015.03.013.
PubMed -Link

Rettberg JR, Yao J, Brinton RD. Estrogen: A master regulator of bioenergetic systems in the brain and body. Front Neuroendocrinol. 2014 Jan;35(1):8-30. PubMed -Link

Yao, J., Rettberg, J.R., Klosinski, L.P. Cadenas, E and Brinton, R.D.  Shift in brain metabolism in late onset Alzheimer's disease: Implications for biomarkers and therapeutic interventions. Mol Aspects Med. 2011 Aug;32(4-6):247-57. Epub 2011 Oct 21. PubMed -Link

Yao J, Irwin RW, Zhao L, Nilsen J, Hamilton RT, Brinton RD, Mitochondrial bioenergetic deficit precedes Alzheimer's pathology in female mouse model of Alzheimer's disease. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2009 Aug 25;106(34):14670-5. Epub 2009 Aug 10. PubMed -Link

Brinton, RD Neurosteroids as Regenerative Agents in Brain: Therapeutic Implications, Nature Endocrine Reviews. 2013 Feb 26. doi: 10.1038/nrendo.2013.31.
PubMed -Link

Irwin RW, Solinsky CM, Brinton RD. Frontiers in therapeutic development of allopregnanolone for Alzheimer's disease and other neurological disorders. Front Cell Neurosci. 2014 Jul 30;8:203.  PubMed -Link

Yao J, Brinton RD. Targeting mitochondrial bioenergetics for Alzheimer's prevention and treatment. Curr Pharm Des. 2011;17(31):3474-9. PubMed

Yao J, Chen S, Mao Z, Cadenas E, Brinton RD. 2-Deoxy-D-glucose treatment induces ketogenesis, sustains mitochondrial function, and reduces pathology in female mouse model of Alzheimer's disease. PLoS One. 2011;6(7):e21788. Epub 2011 Jul 1.