Headshot photo of Atheir Abbas, M.D., Ph.D.

Atheir Abbas, M.D., Ph.D.

  • Assistant Professor of Behavioral Neuroscience, School of Medicine
  • Assistant Professor of Psychiatry, School of Medicine


Dr. Abbas obtained his MD and PhD in Biochemistry at Case Western Reserve University.   The focus of his graduate research, under the mentorship of Dr. Bryan Roth, was on serotonin receptors and behavior.  He subsequently moved to Columbia University in 2011, where he completed his psychiatry residency training and postdoctoral work under the primary mentorship of Dr. Josh Gordon, as well as with Dr. Christoph Kellendonk and Dr. Daniel Javitt when Dr. Gordon left to assume leadership of the NIMH.  He joined the Department of Behavioral of Neuroscience at OHSU in 2019.  He is continuing clinical and teaching work as a Staff Psychiatrist at the VA Portland Health Care System, which is connected physically to OHSU, and is also appointed in the Department of Psychiatry at OHSU.

His goal is to understand the link between cognitive deficits and cortical macro- and micro-circuit dysfunction in schizophrenia and other psychiatric disorders.  In his research, he combines in vivo, high density neural recordings in freely moving mice with optogenetics and advanced computational analysis to study the neural correlates of cognitive functions such as working memory, a prefrontal cortex-dependent cognitive function that is impaired in many psychiatric disorders.  By uncovering the cellular and circuit mechanisms that underlie cognition, he hopes to better understand psychiatric disease processes and identify new therapeutic targets to treat cognitive dysfunction since it is a major contributor to decreased quality of life and poor functioning.

Education and training

    • B.S., 2002, Case Western Reserve University
    • Ph.D., 2011, Case Western Reserve University
    • M.D., 2011, Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine
  • Residency

    • Psychiatry, Columbia University
  • Certifications

    • Board Certified, Psychiatry, American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology

Memberships and associations:

  • American Psychiatric Association

Areas of interest

  • Systems Neuroscience
  • Working memory
  • high density neural recordings
  • optogenetics
  • neural oscillations
  • schizophrenia
  • Neural circuits

Honors and awards

  • Levy Residency Fellow Award, 2011
  • National Institute of Mental Health Outstanding Resident Award, 2013
  • American Psychiatric Association Research Colloquium Award, 2016
  • NARSAD Young Investigator Award, 2017
  • Levy Postdoctoral Fellow Award, 2017
  • OHSU Physician Scientist Award, 2019


Selected publications

  • Somatostatin interneurons facilitate hippocampal-prefrontal synchrony and prefrontal spatial encoding. Abbas AI, Sundiang MJM, Henoch B, Morton MP, Bolkan SS, Park AJ, Harris AZ, Kellendonk C, Gordon. Neuron. 2018 Nov 21;100(4):926-939.e3. Epub 2018 Oct 11. PMID: 30318409; PMCID: PMC6262834
  • A Novel Method for Chronic Social Defeat Stress in Female Mice. Harris AZ, Atsak P, Bretton ZH, Holt ES, Alam R, Morton MP, Abbas AI, Leonardo ED, Bolkan SS, Hen R, Gordon JA. Neuropsychopharmacology. 2018 May;43(6):1276-1283.  PMID: 29090682; PMCID: 5916350
  • Bolkan SS, Stujenske JM, Parnaudeau S, Spellman TJ, Rauffenbart C, Abbas AI, Harris AZ, Gordon JA, Kellendonk C. Thalamic projections sustain prefrontal activity during working memory maintenance. Nature Neuroscience. 2017 Jul;20(7):987-996. PMID: 28481349; PMCID: 5501395
  • Parnaudeau S, O'Neill PK, Bolkan SS, Ward RD, Abbas AI, Roth BL, Balsam PD, Gordon JA, Kellendonk C. Inhibition of mediodorsal thalamus disrupts thalamofrontal connectivity and cognition. Neuron. 2013 Mar 20;77(6):1151-62. PMID: 23522049; PMCID: 3629822
  • Keiser MJ, Setola V, Irwin JJ, Laggner C, Abbas AI, Hufeisen SJ, Jensen NH, Kuijer MB, Matos RC, Tran TB, Whaley R, Glennon RA, Hert J, Thomas KL, Edwards DD, Shoichet BK, Roth BL. Predicting new molecular targets for known drugs. Nature. 2009 Nov 12;462(7270):175-181. PMID: 19881490; PMCID: 2784146  
  • Alexander GM, Rogan SC, Abbas AI, Armbruster BN, Pei Y, Allen JA, Nonneman RJ, Hartmann J, Moy SS, Nicolelis MA, McNamara JO, Roth BL. Remote control of neuronal activity in transgenic mice expressing evolved G protein-coupled receptors. Neuron. 2009 Jul 16;63(1):27-39. PMID: 19607790; PMCID: 2751885  
  • Abbas AI, Hedlund PB, Huang XP, Tran TB, Meltzer HY, Roth BL. Amisulpride is a potent 5-HT7 antagonist: relevance for antidepressant actions in vivo. Psychopharmacology (Berl). 2009 Jul;205(1):119-128. Epub 2009 Apr 1. Epub 2009 Apr 1. PMID: 19337725; PMCID: 2821721 
  • Abbas AI, Yadav PN, Yao WD, Arbuckle MI, Grant SG, Caron MG, Roth BL. PSD-95 is essential for hallucinogen and atypical antipsychotic drug actions at serotonin receptors. J Neurosci. 2009 Jun 3;29(22):7124-7136. PMID: 19494135; PMCID: 2836830
  • Park AJ, Harris AZ, Martyniuk KM, Chang CY, Abbas AI, Lowes DC, Kellendonk C, Gogos JA, Gordon JA. Reset of hippocampal-prefrontal circuitry facilitates learning. Nature. 2021 Mar;591(7851):615-619. doi: 10.1038/s41586-021-03272-1. Epub 2021 Feb 24. PMID: 33627872; PMCID: PMC7990705.
  • Lowes DC, Chamberlin LA, Kretsge LN, Holt ES, Abbas AI, Park AJ, Yusufova L, Bretton ZH, Firdous A, Enikolopov AG, Gordon JA, Harris AZ. Ventral tegmental area GABA neurons mediate stress-induced blunted reward-seeking in mice. Nat Commun. 2021 Jun 10;12(1):3539. doi: 10.1038/s41467-021-23906-2. PMID: 34112787; PMCID: PMC8192742.


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