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)


  • "Clustered Ca Channels Are Blocked by Synaptic Vesicle Proton Release at Mammalian Auditory Ribbon Synapses." Cell Reports  In: , Vol. 25, No. 12, 18.12.2018, p. 3451-3464.e3.
  • "Erratum : Vision: Microcircuits Rage against the Dimming of the Light (Current Biology (2018) 28(18) (R1114–R1116), (S0960982218311175) (10.1016/j.cub.2018.08.033))." Current Biology  In: , Vol. 28, No. 20, 22.10.2018.
  • "Blocking slow exocytosis with slow Ca buffers slows recovery from depression." Journal of Physiology  In: , Vol. 596, No. 19, 01.10.2018, p. 4555-4557.
  • "Vision : Microcircuits Rage against the Dimming of the Light." Current Biology  In: , Vol. 28, No. 18, 24.09.2018, p. R1114-R1116.
  • "Allegro giusto : piccolo, bassoon and clarinet set the tempo of vesicle pool replenishment." Journal of Physiology  In: , Vol. 596, No. 8, 15.04.2018, p. 1315-1316.
  • "Ca-permeable AMPARs mediate glutamatergic transmission and excitotoxic damage at the hair cell ribbon synapse." Journal of Neuroscience  In: , Vol. 37, No. 25, 21.06.2017, p. 6162-6175.
  • "Distinct actions of voltage-activated Ca channel block on spontaneous release at excitatory and inhibitory central synapses." Journal of Neuroscience  In: , Vol. 37, No. 16, 19.04.2017, p. 4301-4310.
  • "The coupling between Ca channels and the exocytotic Ca sensor at hair cell ribbon synapses varies tonotopically along the mature cochlea." Journal of Neuroscience  In: , Vol. 37, No. 9, 01.03.2017, p. 2471-2484.
  • "Tuning auditory synapses for resilience, reliability and precision." Journal of Physiology  In: , Vol. 595, No. 3, 01.02.2017, p. 621-622.
  • "Recycling at synapses : Synaptic vesicles in rodent neurons are recycled using at least two distinct mechanisms." eLife  In: , Vol. 5, No. JUNE2016, e17692, 29.06.2016.
  • "Fast, Temperature-Sensitive and Clathrin-Independent Endocytosis at Central Synapses." Neuron  In: , Vol. 90, No. 3, 04.05.2016, p. 492-498.
  • "Postsynaptic Plasticity Triggered by Ca-Permeable AMPA Receptor Activation in Retinal Amacrine Cells." Neuron  In: , Vol. 89, No. 3, 03.02.2016, p. 507-520.
  • "Synaptic Vesicle Exocytosis at the Dendritic Lobules of an Inhibitory Interneuron in the Mammalian Retina." Neuron  In: , Vol. 87, No. 3, 05.08.2015, p. 564-576.
  • "The ubiquitous nature of multivesicular release." Trends in Neurosciences  In: , Vol. 38, No. 7, 01.07.2015, p. 428-438.
  • "Proton-mediated block of Ca channels during multivesicular release regulates short-term plasticity at an auditory hair cell synapse." Journal of Neuroscience  In: , Vol. 34, No. 48, 26.11.2014, p. 15877-15887.
  • "Phase-locking precision is enhanced by multiquantal release at an auditory hair cell ribbon synapse." Neuron  In: , Vol. 83, No. 6, 2014, p. 1404-1417.
  • "Specialized postsynaptic morphology enhances neurotransmitter dilution and high-frequency signaling at an auditory synapse." Journal of Neuroscience  In: , Vol. 34, No. 24, 2014, p. 8358-8372.
  • "Single Ca2+ channels and exocytosis at sensory synapses." Journal of Physiology  In: , Vol. 591, No. 13, 07.2013, p. 3167-3178.
  • "Macrocircuits for sound localization use leaky coincidence detectors and specialized synapses." Neuron  In: , Vol. 78, No. 5, 05.06.2013, p. 755-757.
  • "Dysmyelination of auditory afferent axons increases the jitter of action potential timing during high-frequency firing." Journal of Neuroscience  In: , Vol. 33, No. 22, 29.05.2013, p. 9402-9407.
  • "Editorial." Synapse  In: , Vol. 67, No. 1, 01.2013, p. 1-3.
  • "Neuroscience : Faster than kiss-and-run." Nature  In: , Vol. 504, No. 7479, 2013, p. 220-221.
  • "Suppression of spikes during posttetanic hyperpolarization in auditory neurons : The role of temperature, Ih currents, and the Na+-K+-ATPase pump." Journal of Neurophysiology  In: , Vol. 108, No. 7, 01.10.2012, p. 1924-1932.
  • "Ca2+ influx and neurotransmitter release at ribbon synapses." Cell Calcium  In: , Vol. 52, No. 3-4, 09.2012, p. 208-216.
  • "Paired-pulse plasticity in the strength and latency of light-evoked lateral inhibition to retinal bipolar cell terminals." Journal of Neuroscience  In: , Vol. 32, No. 34, 22.08.2012, p. 11688-11699.
  • "Patch-clamp capacitance measurements and Ca2+ imaging at single nerve terminals in retinal slices." Journal of Visualized Experiments  In: , No. 59, e3345, 2012, p. 1-6.
  • "Sharp Ca 2+ Nanodomains beneath the ribbon promote highly synchronous multivesicular release at hair cell synapses." Journal of Neuroscience  In: , Vol. 31, No. 46, 16.11.2011, p. 16637-16650.
  • "Light-evoked lateral gabaergic inhibition at single bipolar cell synaptic terminals is driven by distinct retinal microcircuits." Journal of Neuroscience  In: , Vol. 31, No. 44, 02.11.2011, p. 15884-15893.
  • "Allosteric modulation of retinal GABA receptors by ascorbic acid." Journal of Neuroscience  In: , Vol. 31, No. 26, 29.06.2011, p. 9672-9682.
  • "Recovery from short-term depression and facilitation is ultrafast and ca dependent at auditory hair cell synapses." Journal of Neuroscience  In: , Vol. 31, No. 15, 13.04.2011, p. 5682-5692.

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