Jorge P. Golowasch

Contact Info

Title: Professor, Associate Chair
Office: 420F CKB
Hours: By appointment
Phone: 973-596-8444
Dept: biological sciences


  • Universidad de Chile, B.A., 1984.
  • Brandeis University, Ph.D., 1991.


1997-2004. Editor in Chief of Ciencia al Da Internacional, an electronic science journal distributed over the Internet for the worlds Spanish speaking community:

2002-present. Beekeeping. One of the most interesting and fun activities one can engage in. I get to look at how 70,000 little creatures plus 1 queen and a few drones make their home and their food during the summer months and then take advantage of some of their work by extracting honey, pollen and propolis, and by making "mead", a delicious white wine made of honey. The first year, I harvested almost 95 lbs of honey from a single beehive. The challenges: keep the bees happy with their home (prevent swarming), keep the bees healthy without too much or no medication, help the bees survive the harsh winter of the northeast USA, and avoid getting too many bee stings.


  • 2007-present. Department of Biological Sciences (NJIT)
  • 2002-present. Department of Mathematical Sciences (NJIT)
  • 2002-present. Faculty of the Minority Biomedical Research Support (MBRS) Program at Rutgers University
  • 2002-present. Graduate Faculty of the Center for Molecular & Behavioral Neuroscience, Rutgers University
  • 2002-present. Graduate Faculty of the Department of Biological Sciences (Rutgers University-Newark)
  • 1995-2011. Faculty of the Neural Systems & Behavior course at the Marine Biological Laboratories (Woods Hole, MA)
  • 2002-2004. Associate Faculty. New Jersey Center for Biomaterials, Piscataway, New Jersey. USA


Courses Taught


  • 2012 (Fall). Introduction to Neurophysiology (BIOL 341, 698) , Federated Dept Biological Sciences, RU-NJIT
  • 2013 (Spring). Cellular and Systems Neuroscience (BIOL 447, 447H, 641) , Federated Dept Biological Sciences, RU-NJIT


  • 2011. ST: Neuromodulation (BIOL 788)
  • 2010-2012. Cellular and Systems Neuroscience (BIOL 447, 447H, 641) , Federated Dept Biological Sciences, RU-NJIT
  • 2009. Cell Physiology and Imaging (BIOL 405), Federated Dept Biological Sciences, RU-NJIT
  • 2009. Critical Thinking for the Life Sciences (BIOL 630), Federated Dept Biological Sciences, RU-NJIT
  • 2008, Topics in Cell Biology (Plasticity and Homeostasis of Neurons and Synapses) (R120-526), Federated Dept Biological Sciences, RU-NJIT
  • 2008, Undergraduate Research Seminar (Math 401), Department of Mathematical Sciences, NJIT
  • 2007-2008. Molecular and Cell Biology (21-120-455), Federated Dept Biological Sciences, RU-NJIT
  • 2005-2008, Neurobiology (R120-346), Federated Dept Biological Sciences, RU-NJIT
  • 2004-2006. Neuroscience Methods (26-546-705), Center for Molecular and Behavioral Neuroscience, Rutgers-Newark.
  • 2003-2007 Computational Neuroscience (MATH 430/MATH 635), Department of Mathematical Sciences, NJIT.
  • 2003, 2004, 2006-2009 Cell Molecular and Developmental Biology (21-120-524), Federated Dept Biological Sciences, RU-NJIT
  • 2000-2004. Mammalian Physiology (21-120-340), Federated Dept Biological Sciences, RU-NJIT
  • 1997-2011. Neural System and Behavior course , Marine Biological Laboratories, Woods Hole, MA, USA


Research Interests

One of the most important properties of the nervous system from the stand point of its role in guaranteeing the adaptability of an organism to a changing environment is its plasticity. An undesirable consequence of plasticity, however, is the potential instability of the system that expresses it. In spite of being highly plastic, neurons and neural networks maintain relatively stable activity properties. The goal of my research activities is to reach an understanding of the mechanisms that allow the nervous system to be simultaneously plastic and responsive to environmental and internal changes, and also to be stable. Plasticity continues to be studied mostly at the level of synapses, and is believed to underlie learning and memory. However, in recent years intrinsic plasticity (i.e. the plasticity of neuronal excitability outside the synapse) has become an important focus in neuroscience. My work is based on the assumption that simultaneous stability and plasticity can only come about when neurons globally adjust their properties as they locally make adaptive changes to specific conditions and perturbations.  Neurons can do so by modifying non-synaptic voltage-dependent and voltage-independent ionic currents over relatively long time scales. This results in cellular excitability and electric activity changes of both neurons and the networks they are part of. This plasticity can in principle underlie some forms of learning and memory (currently almost entirely attributed to synaptic plasticity), as well as recovery from injury and different sorts of perturbation.

In all my work I apply, and I plan to continue to apply, both experimental (electrophysiological and cell biological) as well as theoretical (analytical and numerical) approaches. These interests can be group in three categories.

1) Regulation of Neuronal Excitability

In past years we discovered two mechanisms involved in the long-term regulation and stabilization of neuronal activity in the stomatogastric ganglion (STG) of crustaceans: activity-dependent (Haedo & Golowasch, 2006), and neuromodulator-dependent mechanisms (Khorkova & Golowasch, 2007; Zhang & Golowasch, 2006; Luther et al, 2003). My currently funded research in this area aims in part to examine possible interactions of these two mechanisms, such as the gating of activity-dependent changes by neuromodulators. We have also discovered that ionic channels, until recently only known to conduct ionic currents independently from each other, are able to interact and be co-regulated such that their conductances appear to depend on each other’s expression. The functional implications of these interactions are not known, and my work is also aimed at understanding the functional implications of these interactions, under the hypothesis that they contribute to the stabilization of neuronal activity. Part of this work is being done in collaboration with Dr. David Schulz from University of Missouri. An extension of this work is to examine the existence and potential role of such correlations in the mammalian nervous system. This is currently being done in collaboration with Dr. Laszlo Zaborsky and his student Temucin Unal from Rutgers-University-Newark. This aspect of my research program is funded by NIH (NIMH grant 64711).

This work has been published with PhD students Olga Khorkova, Yili Zhang and Rosa Rodriguez, MS student Rodolfo Haedo, and undergraduate students John Yarotsky and Chris Reina. More recent work at different stage of submission also includes as co-authors post-docs Mohati Desai and Shunbing Zhao.

2) Role of Linear, Voltage-independent Ionic Currents in Stabilizing Neuronal Activity

Voltage-gated inward (regenerative) currents are known to be essential for neurons to produce oscillatory behavior. Non-regenerative currents are thought to be important to regulate the properties of such behavior but not their generation. Among non-regenerative currents linear (non-voltage-gated) currents have been thought to regulate excitability (i.e. sensitivity to input) but otherwise not be of crucial importance for the generation of oscillatory activity. In collaboration with Dr. Farzan Nadim (NJIT Math Dept) we recently discovered that a voltage gated current activated by neuromodulatory substances in the STG can act as a regenerative current thanks exclusively to some of its linear properties (Zhao et al, 2010). In collaboration with Drs. Nadim and Amit Bose of the NJIT Department of Mathematical Sciences we have hypothesized that the sufficient condition for such a current to act as a generator of oscillatory activity is that it destabilize the neuron’s resting state. The role of the other voltage-gated currents in this scheme would be to limit the range (of membrane potential) where stability is compromised. Our theoretical estimates suggest that one typically small current expressed by most oscillatory neurons (Ih) is crucial in this role. This work has recently been funded by NSF (NSF # 1122291).

This work has been published with post-doc Shunbing Zhao.

3) Capacitance Measurements in Glial Cells.

When studying the nervous system from a cellular perspective it quickly becomes apparent that knowledge at the most basic level is sometimes lacking or overlooked. My laboratory has been part of the discovery of a number of such properties (Rabbah et al., 2005; Gansert et al., 2007; Golowasch et al., 2009; Zhao et al., 2010). One of them, the discovery that measurements of the membrane capacitance depends on the protocol used and that this can be used to make inferences about neuronal structure (Golowasch et al., 2009) has recently led to a collaboration with Dr. Maria Kukley from University of Tübingen (Germany) to attempt to extend this work to mammalian glial cells.

This work has been published with MS student Gladis Thomas, and undergraduate students Arif Patel, Arlene Pineda and Chris Khalil. Other related work was published with MS student (then post-doc) Julianne Gansert, post-doc Shunbing Zhao.


Selected Publications

  1. Zhao, Sh. and Golowasch, J. (2012) Ionic current correlation underlies the global tuning of all neuronal activity features. J.  Neuroscience. In press.
  2. Cagri, T., Golowasch, J. and Zaborszky, L. (2012). Adult mouse basal forebrain harbors two distinct cholinergic populations defined by their electrophysiology. Frontiers in behavioral Neuroscience, 6(21): 1-14.
  3. Temporal, S., Desai, M., Khorkova, O., Varghese, G., Dai, A., Schulz. D.J. and Golowasch, J. (2012) Neuromodulation independently determines correlated channel expression and conductance levels in motor neurons of the stomatogastric ganglion.  J. Neurophysiology, 107: 718-727.
  4. Zhang, Y. and Golowasch, J. (2011). Recovery of rhythmic activity in a central pattern generator: analysis of the role of neuromodulator and activity-dependent mechanisms. J. Computational Neuroscience, 31(3): 685-699.
  5. Zhao, Sh., Golowasch, J. and Nadim, F. (2010). Pacemaker neuron and network oscillations depend on a neuromodulator-regulated linear current. Frontiers in Behavioral Neuroscience. 4(21): 1-9.
  6. Golowasch, J., Thomas, G., Taylor, A., Patel, A., Pineda, A., Khalil, C. and Nadim, F. (2009). Membrane capacitance measurements revisited: dependence of capacitance value on measurement method in non-isopotential neurons. J. Neurophysiology. 102: 2161–2175.
  7. Zhang, Y., Khorkova, O., Rodriguez, R. and Golowasch, J. (2009). Activity and neuromodulatory input contribute to the recovery of rhythmic output after decentralization in a central pattern generator. J. Neurophysiology, 101: 372–386.
  8. Gansert, J., Golowasch, J and Nadim, F. (2007). Sustained rhythmic activity in gap- neurons depends on the diameter of coupled dendrites. J. Neurophysiology. 98: 3450-3460.
  9. Khorkova, O. and Golowasch, J. (2007) Neuromodulators, not activity, control coordinated expression of ionic currents. J. Neuroscience, 27: 8709-8718.
  10. Luther, J.A., Robie, A.A., Yarotsky, J., Reina, Ch., Marder, E. & Golowasch, J. (2003). "Episodic Bouts of Activity Accompany Recovery of Rhythmic Output by a Neuromodulator and Activity-Deprived Adult Neural Network," J. Neurophysiol., 90: 2720-2730.
  11. Golowasch, J., Goldman, M.S., L.F. Abbott. & E. Marder (2002). "Failure of averaging in the construction of conductance-based neuron models," J. Neurophysiology. 87: 1129-1131.
  12. Goldman, M.S., Golowasch, J, Marder, E. & L.F. Abbott. (2001). "Global structure, robustness, and modulation of neuronal models," J. Neuroscience., 21(14): 5229-5238.

Full list of publications

Grants & Projects


  • 2009-2012. Group Undergraduate Biology and Mathematics Training Program at NJIT. Agency: National Science Foundation, Award Number: DUE- 0926232. PI, Victor Matveev, Co-PIs: Jorge Golowasch, Gareth Russell.
  • 2009-2012. Linear conductance-based mechanisms underlying oscillations in neuronal networks. Agency: National Science Foundation, Award Number: 1122291. PI, Amitabha Bose, Co-PIs: Jorge Golowasch, Farzan Nadim.
  • 2009-2014. Role of neuromodulators and activity in the regulation of ionic currents and neuronal network activity. NIH 2R01-64711. Project aims to elucidate the cellular mechanisms that allow a model neural network, the crustacean pyloric network, to produce a stable output while retaining the flexibility to respond to perturbations.


  • 2004. UBM: An Undergraduate Biology and Mathematics Training Program at NJIT Agency: National Science Foundation, Award Number: DUE-0436244. PI, Amitabha Bose, Co-PIs: Jorge Golowasch, Farzan Nadim.
  • 2002. Undergraduate Forum Award for summer research. New Jersey Center for Biomaterials. NJIT, Rutgers University and UMD-NJ.
  • 2001. Activity-dependent regulation of ionic currents. NIH 1R01-64711. Project aims to elucidate the cellular mechanisms that allow a model neural network, the crustacean pyloric network, to produce a stable output while retaining the flexibility to respond to perturbations.
  • 2001. The Pyloric Model Group: Functional Analysis of a Complex, Distributed Biological Neural Network. NSF 0090250. Project aimed at completing the electrophysiological characterization of a model neural network, the crustacean pyloric network, and building a full computational model of it. PI. Scott Hooper.