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Dr. Zupan’s research interests encompassing both genetic and environmental risk factors of neuropsychiatric disease converged following her discovery of maternal genotype-dependent effects on disease-associated traits. Research revealed that genetic mutations in the parental generation can program disease-associated behavior without direct inheritance of the disease-associated gene(s) OR exposure to an external risk factor such as infection or drug use. Parental mutations may impact behavior of genetically unaffected offspring by altering the fetal, perinatal and/or early postnatal developmental environment. 

  • Zupan B and Toth M (2008). Wild-Type Male Offspring of fmr1+/- Mothers Exhibit Characteristics of the Fragile X Phenotype.  Neuropsychopharmacology, 33(11):2667-2675. 
  • Gleason G, Liu B, Bruening S, Zupan B, Auerbach A, Mark W, Oh JE, Gal-Toth J, Lee F, and Toth M (2010). The serotonin1A receptor gene as a genetic and prenatal maternal environmental factor in anxiety.  Proc Natl Acad Sci USA, 107(16):7592-7. 
  • Zupan B and Toth M (2012).  Fmr-1 as an offspring genetic and a maternal environmental factor in neurodevelopmental disease. Results Probl Cell Differ, 54:243. 

Since Dr. Zupan has established her lab at Vassar College, her research has focused on identifying the mechanism(s) whereby uninherited genetic variations program affiliative social behaviors, whose dysfunction is a core dimension of many neurodevelopmental disorders.  She’s reported that both prenatal and postnatal exposure to maternal FMRP deficiency was sufficient to program hypersociability, suggesting that mechanism/s mediating social behavior are susceptible to programming by multiple physiological, and possibly behavioral, maternal factors. Complementing this line of inquiry are new collaborations with researchers at MSKCC and Weill Cornell that have focused on identifying the maternal genotype- and/or behavior-specific factors that program offspring behavior, including innate fear and social aggression. 

  • Zupan B, Sharma A, Frazier A, Klein S, Toth M (2016). Programming social behavior by the maternal fragile X protein. Genes, Brain Behav, 15(6):578-87. 
  • Liu B, Zupan B, Laird E, Klein S, Gleason G, Bozinoski M, Gal Toth J, Toth M. (2014). Maternal hematopoietic TNF, via milk chemokines, programs hippocampal development and memory.  Nat Neurosci, 17(1): 97-105. 
  • B. Zupan, B. Liu, F. Taki, J.G. Toth, M. Toth. (2017). Maternal Brain TNF-α Programs Innate Fear in the Offspring. Curr Biol, 27(24):3859-3863. 

Full publication list at MyBibliography.