Chelsea McCoy Asadorian

Instructor and Postdoctoral Associate

  • B.S. in Biology, Southern Illinois University Edwardsville
  • Ph.D. in Neurobiology, University of Alabama at Birmingham

Dr. McCoy joined the Virginia Tech School of Neuroscience in August 2016. Her research focuses on the neurodevelopment of temperamental differences and the predisposition to anxiety and depression. Her research is performed with Dr. Sarah Clinton to identify epigenetic changes that occur during neurodevelopment of rat models of anxiety- and depression-like behaviors.

Interest: molecular neurobiology- particularly cellular function within the limbic brain, Molecular genetics- including epigenetics, whole genomic profiling, Behavioral neurobiology- especially emotional behaviors within rat models

Teaching and Career Development: Dr. McCoy’s goals are to help students develop their scientific career through teaching in a classroom setting and within a research laboratory setting and also through mentoring students to encourage their progress to become leaders in neuroscience.

  • Innate differences in human temperament and emotionality can contribute to the vulnerability to depression and anxiety. Investigating the heritable differences that shape temperament is essential for understanding the molecular basis of these disorders. Dr. McCoy’s work utilizes rat models to study how the neurobiological differences lead to altered behavioral phenotypes. Specifically, Dr. McCoy works with Dr. Clinton on two different projects:
  • Epigenetic changes during early postnatal development alter adult emotional behavior: Epigenetic mechanisms are processes that regulate the gene expression without directly modifying the genetic sequence. In this way, these processes can broadly regulate many genes (thereby cellular function) and drive differences in brain function and emotional behavior. This project aims to understand the innate epigenetic and molecular processes that take place during early brain development that occur in rats that display anxiety- and depression-like behaviors later in life.
  • Early Life Stress leads to altered adult emotionality: Stress during childhood can lead to lifelong differences in emotional behavior. Parental neglect or separation is often modeled in rodents by removing the pups from their mothers for several days. Dr. McCoy investigates on how this environmental stressor during early life leads to differences in emotional behavior and the molecular processes occur consequently.
  • McCoy CR, Golf SR, Melendez-Ferro M, Perez-Costas E, Glover ME, Jackson NL, Stringfellow SA, Pugh PC, Fant AD, Clinton SM. Altered metabolic activity in the developing brain of rats predisposed to high versus low depression-like behavior. (2016) Neuroscience.
  • McCoy CR, Rana S, Stringfellow SA, Day JJ, Wyss JM, Clinton SM, Kerman IA. Neonatal maternal separation stress elicits lasting DNA methylation changes in the hippocampus of stress-reactive Wistar Kyoto rats. (2016) European Journal of Neuroscience.
  • McCoy CR, Jackson NL, Day JJ, Clinton SM. Genetic predisposition to high anxiety- and depression-like behavior coincides with diminished DNA methylation in the adult rat amygdala. (2017) Behavioral Brain Research.

To see more publications of Dr. McCoy visit PubMed

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