BBS Faculty Member - Amar Sahay

Amar Sahay

Center for Regenerative Medicine, Department of Psychiatry

Center for Regenerative Medicine, Harvard Stem Cell Institute
185 Cambridge Street
CPZN-Room 4242
Boston, MA 02114
Tel: 617-643-4371
Fax: 617-724-2662
Visit my lab page here.

The incidence and complexity of mental illnesses and cognitive impairments associated with ageing and Alzheimer’s disease underscores the need to develop novel treatments. Our mission is to generate fundamental insights into the role of adult hippocampal neurogenesis, the process by which neural stem cells generate dentate granule neurons throughout life, in hippocampal functions in encoding, memory processing and modulation of mood. By integrating cellular, circuit, systems and behavioral interrogation of adult hippocampal neurogenesis, we aspire to rejuvenate and re-engineer hippocampal circuitry to optimize circuit performance in diseases such as depression, anxiety disorders, Alzheimer’s disease and ageing.

To address this goal, we have established a multifaceted research program that integrates inducible mouse- and viral-genetics, pharmaco- and optogenetics, synaptic tracing, in vivo awake behaving optical imaging, 2 photon imaging, human cellular reprogramming, and behavioral analysis. Specifically, we are interested in the following questions.

1. How are neural stem cell activation-quiescence decisions physiologically regulated?
2. What are the mechanisms underlying lineage homeostasis and experience dependent integration of adult-born neurons?
3. How do properties and connectivity of adult-born neurons causally relate to their encoding and memory functions?
4. How does adult hippocampal neurogenesis influence hippocampal activity and limbic circuits sub serving mood?
5. How do our studies on properties and connectivity of adult-born neurons in rodents inform our thinking of the human brain in health and disease?
6. What are the molecular mechanisms operational in the hippocampus underlying resilience and vulnerability to stress?

Last Update: 1/16/2018


For a complete listing of publications click here.



Amar Sahay*, Kimberly N. Scobie, Alexis S. Hill, Colin M. O'Carroll, Mazen A. Kheirbek, Nesha
S. Burghardt, André A. Fenton, Alex Dranovsky and René Hen*. Increasing adult hippocampal neurogenesis is sufficient to improve pattern separation.
Nature 2011; 472 (7344): 466-70. * Co-corresponding author.

Taruna Ikrar, Nannan Guo, Kaiwen He, Antoine Besnard, Sally Levinson, Alexis Hill, Hey-Kyoung Lee, Rene Hen, Xiangmin Xu and Amar Sahay. Adult neurogenesis modifies excitability of the dentate gyrus Frontiers in Neural Circuits 2013, 7:204, 26.

Kathleen McAvoy, Kimberly N. Scobie, Stefan Berger, Craig Russo, Nannan Guo, Pakanat Decharatanachart, Hugo-Vega Ramirez, Sam Miake-Lye, Michael Whalen, Mark Nelson, Matteo Bergami,
Dusan Bartsch, Rene Hen, Benedikt Berninger and Amar Sahay. Modulating neuronal competition dynamics in the dentate gyrus to rejuvenate aging memory circuits Neuron 2016; 91(6):1356-1373

Antoine Besnard and Amar Sahay. Adult hippocampal neurogenesis, fear generalization and stress. Impact of Stress on the Brain: Pathology, Treatment and Prevention 2016 Neuropsychopharmacology: (1):24-44.

Tara Raam, Kathleen McAvoy, Antoine Besnard, Alexa Veenema and
Amar Sahay . Hippocampal oxytocin receptors are necessary for discrimination of social stimuli. Nature Communications 2017; 8(1): 2001.

Kathleen McAvoy and
Amar Sahay. Targeting Adult Neurogenesis to Optimize Hippocampal Circuits in Aging Neurotherapeutics 2017; 14(3):630-645.

Nannan Guo, Marta E. Soden, Charlotte Herber, Michael TaeWoo Kim, Antoine Besnard, Paoyan Lin, Xiang Ma, Constance L. Cepko, Larry S. Zweifel and Amar Sahay. Dentate granule cell recruitment of feedforward inhibition governs engram maintenance and remote memory generalization. Nature Medicine (In Press, 2018).

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of Harvard College