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Albert Herrera

Professor of Biological Sciences
Vice Chair

Contact Information
E-mail: aherrera@usc.edu
Phone: (213) 740-9177
Office: HNB 116

LINKS
Curriculum Vitae
 

Education

Ph.D. Biology, University of California, Los Angeles, 1/1977
B.S. Zoology, University of California, Davis, 1/1972
 

Postdoctoral Training

NIH and MDA Postdoctoral Fellow, University of California, Los Angeles, 1977-1981  
 

Academic Appointment, Affiliation, and Employment History

Tenure Track Appointments

Professor, Biological Sciences, University of Southern California, 08/1992-  
Associate Professor, Biological Sciences, University of Southern California, 08/1987-07/1992  
Assistant Professor, Biological Sciences, University of Southern California, 08/1981-07/1987  
 

PostDoctoral Appointments

NIH and MDA Postdoctoral Fellow, University of California, Los Angeles, 06/1977-07/1981  
 

Description of Research

Summary Statement of Research Interests

Professor Herrera's research focuses on the development, growth, regulation and plasticity of synapses in the vertebrate nervous system. Herrera studies the formation and subsequent elimination of the nervous system's overabundance of synaptic connections during embryonic development. He has shown this occurs through an activity-dependent, competitive process controlled by the expression of ion channels, which results in the permanent adult set of neural connections. His research on neural development, learning and memory, and neural recovery from injury focuses on long-term effects of altered activity on synaptic efficiency. He uses a frog model to focus on events at the neuro-muscular junction in this research. In another project, Herrera's lab investigates the role of Schwann cells in the development and the growth of peripheral synapses. Schwann cells are glial cells that cover and sustain the synapse. He has revealed that Schwann cells lead the growth of motor axons during new synapse formation and synaptic enlargement.
 

Funded Research

USC Funding

Provost's Undergraduate Research Associates Program. Embryonic development of skeletal muscle in frogs: Three students study embryogenesis of skeletal muscle and nerve-muscle synapses in frog tadpoles. Students work closely with the sponsor, and study methods, ethics, and the relevant literature., $10,000, 2010-2011   
Provost's Undergraduate Research Associates Program. Plasticity of Synaptic Connections during Embryogenesis: A small team of undergraduate researchers examines structural and functional aspects of the dramatic rearrangements of nerve-muscle synaptic connections during early embryonic development in frogs., $10,000, 2009-2010   
USC Fund for Innovative Undergraduate Teaching. Redesign of a Large Introductory Biology Class: Lectures were recorded and archived for online access. In groups of about 50, students read and discussed original research papers. Extensive polling was done to correlate opinions with performance., $15,000, 2006-2007   
 

Publications

Journal Article

VanSaun, M., Herrera, A. A., Werle, M. (2004). Structural alterations at the neuromuscular junctions of matrix metalloproteinase-3 null mutant mice. Journal of Neurocytology/Kluwer Academic Press. Vol. 32, pp. 1129-1142.
Herrera, A. A., Zeng, Y. (2003). Activity-dependent switch from synapse formation to synapse elimination during development of neuromuscular junctions. Journal of Neurocytology/Kluwer Academic Press. Vol. 32, pp. 817-833.
Reddy, L. V., Koirala, S., Sugiura, Y., Herrera, A. A., Ko, C. (2003). Glial cells maintain synaptic structure and function and promote development of the neuromuscular junction in vivo. Neuron/Cell Press. Vol. 40, pp. 563-580.
Herrera, A. A., Qiang, H., Ko, C. (2000). The role of perisynaptic Schwann cells in development of neuromuscular junctions in the frog (Xenopus laevis). Journal of Neurobiology/Wiley. Vol. 45, pp. 237-254.
Herrera, A. A., Qiang, H., Ko, C. (2000). The role of perisynaptic Schwann cells in development of neuromuscular junctions in the frog (Xenopus laevis). Journal of Neurobiology. Vol. 45, pp. 237-254.
 

Multimedia Scholarship and Creative Works

Undergraduate Research Web Site, This website features research results obtained by undergraduate researchers supervised by Albert Herrera: www-rcf.usc.edu/~aherrera, 2004-  
 

Service to the University

Review Panels

NIH-NINDS, External Advisory Committee, Special Neuroscience Research Program, La Universidad Central del Carib, 2004-2009  
 

Other Service to the University

Faculty Sponsor, Operation Smile (pre-medical/dental student organization), 01/01/2008-12/31/2010  
Faculty Sponsor, Chicanos/Latinos for Health Education (pre-medical student organization), 09/01/2005-12/31/2010  
Faculty Director, Alpha Lambda Delta Honor Society, 09/01/2004-12/31/2010  
Member, Advisory Board, Our Savior Catholic Center at USC, 09/01/2000-12/31/2010  
Member, Selection Committee, USC Mellon Awards for Excellence in Mentoring , Spring 2009   
Judge, USC Undergraduate Symposium for Scholarly and Creative Work, Spring 2008   
 

Service to the Profession

Professional Memberships

Society for Neuroscience, 1981-2010  
 
 
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