Judith Walters

This week for WiSE Wednesday we’re featuring Dr. Judith R. Walters, a Senior Investigator at the NIH National Institute on Neurological Disorders and Stroke and Chief of the Neurophysiological Pharmacology Section. 

Dr. Walters received her bachelors from Mt. Holyoke College and did her Ph.D. and Postdoctoral Fellowship at Yale University researching the neurophysiology of the dopamine system in the basal ganglia before receiving a faculty position there. Her current research interests are in the role of dopamine in the function of the basal ganglia-thalamocortical system. Her section is studying how the function of the basal ganglia- thalamocortical network may be changed by drugs or other means like deep brain stimulation. The work also focuses on dopamine receptor stimulation in the regulation of neuronal activity in this network. Her research has applications in many diseases, including Huntington’s disease, Tourette’s syndrome, Parkinson’s disease.

As one of the first women to receive a Ph.D in her program at Yale she knows what it means to feel unwelcome because she was a woman, and to balance being a scientist and being a mother. She is known by her students for being accessible and welcoming and for being a strong mentor. One way she encourages her woman mentees is by encouraging them to read the book “Lean In” by Sheryl Sandberg which discusses the struggles of women in the professional world and the role that woman mentors and role models can have on the professional success of other women. Dr. Walters allows her students to cultivate their own mentorship skills and encourages her mentees, especially young women, to make themselves heard. 

Noteworthy Articles:

Brazhnik E, Cruz AV, Avila I, Wahba MI, Novikov N, Ilieva NM, McCoy AJ, Gerber C, Walters JR. State-dependent spike and local field synchronization between motor cortex and substantia nigra in hemiparkinsonian rats. J Neurosci. 2012;32(23):7869-80.

Brazhnik E, Novikov N, McCoy AJ, Ilieva NM, Ghraib MW, Walters JR. Early decreases in cortical mid-gamma peaks coincide with the onset of motor deficits and precede exaggerated beta build-up in rat models for Parkinson’s disease. Neurobiol Dis. 2021 Jul;155:105393. doi: 10.1016/j.nbd.2021.105393. Epub 2021 May 15. PMID: 34000417. 

Entry courtesy of Claire Regan

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