Photo of Henrique von Gersdorff, Ph.D.

Henrique von Gersdorff Ph.D.

  •      (503) 494-4645
    • Professor Vollum Institute
    • Professor of Physiology and Pharmacology School of Medicine
    • Senior Scientist Vollum Institute
    • Neuroscience Graduate Program School of Medicine
    • Physiology and Pharmacology Graduate Program School of Medicine
    • Ophthalmology School of Medicine
    • Program in Molecular and Cellular Biosciences School of Medicine

Henrique von Gersdorff earned a Ph.D. in Physics from the University of Minnesota and a Ph.D. in Neurobiology from Stony Brook University in New York. He received his B.S. in Physics from the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. He was a research scientist in high-energy physics at Brookhaven National Laboratory, and had postdoctoral fellowships at Stony Brook University and the Max-Planck Institute for Biophysical Chemistry, Department of Membrane Biophysics, Göttingen. In 1998 he was appointed assistant scientist in the Vollum Institute and was promoted to scientist in 2004 and senior scientist in 2009. von Gersdorff also holds a faculty appointment in the Physiology and Pharmacology department at OHSU.

The von Gersdorff lab is focused on sensory neuroscience research, primarily the auditory and visual systems. Sensory information is conveyed by neurons and synapses specialized to faithfully transmit large amounts of information at high rates. The lab uses patch clamp electrophysiology and calcium imaging techniques to study the synaptic physiology in the auditory hair cell synapses, the specialized synapses in the auditory brainstem, and the ribbon-type synapses of the retina.

Areas of interest

  • exocytosis and endocytosis of synaptic vesicles
  • short and long-term plasticity in the retina and brainstem
  • electrophysiology of auditory pathway
  • ribbon synapses


  • B.S., Federal University of Rio de Janeiro Brazil 1983
  • Ph.D., University of Minnesota, Minneapolis Minnesota 1989
  • Ph.D., Stony Brook University New York 1995

Honors and awards

  • Humboldt Research Award from the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation of Germany (2012)
  • Pew Foundation for Biomedical Sciences Research Scholar Award (1999-2003)
  • Alfred P. Sloan Research Scholar Award in Neuroscience (1999-2001)
  • Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers (PECASE), White House Award (1999)

Memberships and associations

  • Editor-in-Chief, Synapse (2013-present)


  • "Synaptic vesicle endocytosis at a CNS nerve terminal" Journal of Neurophysiology December 2007
  • "Evidence that vesicles on the synaptic ribbon of retinal bipolar neurons can be rapidly released" Neuron June 1996
  • "Phasic transmitter release from tonic neurons." Neuron August 15 2002
  • "Studies of the hydrodynamic evolution of matter produced in fluctuations in pp collisions and in ultrarelativistic nuclear collisions" Physical review D: Particles and fields  1986
  • "Evidence for intermittent patterns of fluctuations in particle production in high-energy interactions in nuclear emulsion" Physical Review Letters  1989
  • "Illuminating the calcium sensor for exocytosis in a flash" Nature Neuroscience April 2005
  • "Inhibition of endocytosis by elevated internal calcium in a synaptic terminal" Nature  1994
  • "Sharp Ca 2+ Nanodomains beneath the ribbon promote highly synchronous multivesicular release at hair cell synapses" Journal of Neuroscience November 16 2011
  • "Long-distance signaling via presynaptic glutamate transporters" Nature Neuroscience November 2006
  • "Fast endocytosis is inhibited by GABA-mediated chloride influx at a presynaptic terminal" Neuron October 28 2004
  • "Prolonged reciprocal signaling via NMDA and GABA receptors at a retinal ribbon synapse" Journal of Neuroscience December 7 2005
  • "Electrophysiology of synaptic vesicle cycling" Annual Review of Physiology  1999
  • "Extending the realm of membrane capacitance measurements to nerve terminals with complex morphologies" Journal of Physiology June 2010
  • "Correlation between transverse momentum and multiplicity for spherically exploding quark-gluon plasmas" Physics Letters, Section B: Nuclear, Elementary Particle and High-Energy Physics November 21 1985
  • "Short-term depression at the reciprocal synapses between a retinal bipolar cell terminal and amacrine cells" Journal of Neuroscience July 11 2007
  • "Protein kinase C modulates synaptic vesicle acidification in a ribbon type nerve terminal in the retina" Neurochemistry International November 2008
  • "Presynaptic Na+ channels" Journal of Neuroscience April 6 2005
  • "Light evokes Ca2+ spikes in the axon terminal of a retinal bipolar cell" Neuron January 2000
  • "Editorial" Synapse January 2013
  • "Synaptic vesicle pool size, release probability and synaptic depression are sensitive to Ca2+ buffering capacity in the developing rat calyx of held" Brazilian Journal of Medical and Biological Research  2009
  • "Long-term plasticity mediated by mGluR1 at a retinal reciprocal synapse" Neuron May 5 2005
  • "The unitary event underlying multiquantal EPSCs at a hair cell's ribbon synapse" Journal of Neuroscience June 10 2009
  • "Synaptic transmission at the calyx of held under in vivo-like activity levels" Journal of Neurophysiology August 2007
  • "Light-evoked lateral gabaergic inhibition at single bipolar cell synaptic terminals is driven by distinct retinal microcircuits" Journal of Neuroscience November 2 2011
  • "Optimizing synaptic architecture and efficiency for high-frequency transmission" Neuron December 19 2002
  • "Physiological temperatures reduce the rate of vesicle pool depletion and short-term depression via an acceleration of vesicle recruitment" Journal of Neuroscience February 1 2006
  • "Exo-endocytosis at mossy fiber terminals" Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America July 22 2003
  • "Synaptic ribbons" Neuron  2001
  • "Paired-pulse plasticity in the strength and latency of light-evoked lateral inhibition to retinal bipolar cell terminals" Journal of Neuroscience August 22 2012
  • "Synaptic transmission"   2008

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