Elly Nedivi

The Picower Institute for Learning and Memory
MIT Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences
MIT Department of Biology
Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Email: nedivi@mit.edu

Administrative Assistant
Charles Moss
Office: 46-3241
Phone: 617-452-2070
Email: vmoss@mit.edu

My lab studies the cellular mechanisms that underlie activity-dependent plasticity in the developing and adult brain through studies of neuronal structural dynamics, identification of the participating genes, and characterization of the proteins they encode. I was trained as a biochemist/molecular biologist. As a postdoctoral fellow I initiated one of the first screens for activity-regulated genes and isolated a large number of candidate-plasticity genes (CPGs). Motivated by the large number of CPGs that affect neuronal structure, I spent 2 years learning in vivo imaging with Hollis Cline at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory. A major bottleneck subsequent to a screen is characterizing the cellular function of newly identified genes. Since establishing my own lab, we have elucidated the neuronal and synaptic function of two previously unknown CPGs, CPG15 and CPG2, and characterized their very different activities. We showed that CPG15 is a novel growth factor that plays a dual role in the nervous system, acting as a survival factor for cortical progenitors and later as a growth and differentiation factor. We found that CPG2 is a large intracellular adaptor protein localized to the postsynaptic endocytic zone of excitatory synapses, and a critical component of the endocytic pathway mediating glutamate receptor internalization. These two genes are still the focus of some research projects in the lab.

In parallel, we have also been collaborating with Peter So’s lab in the Department of Mechanical Engineering at MIT to develop multi-photon microscopy for large volume, high resolution imaging of dendritic arbor and synaptic structural dynamics in vivo. We were the first to show unambiguous evidence of dendritic growth and retraction and of branch tip additions in the adult brain. Surprisingly, our data singled out GABAergic interneurons as those capable of structural dynamics, suggesting that circuit rearrangement is restricted by cell type-specific rules. Recently, we have also developed methods for labeling and chronic monitoring of excitatory and inhibitory synapses across entire neuronal arbors in the mouse visual cortex in vivo. A large part of the lab is now devoted to imaging-related projects, some associated with characterization of CPG function in vivo, others addressing more general questions related to structural plasticity of cortical circuitry with a focus on the inhibitory components.

  • Ph.D. in Neuroscience, Stanford University, 1991
  • B.Sc. in Biology, Hebrew University, Jerusalem, Israel, 1982
  • Professor, Departments of Brain and Cognitive Sciences, and Biology, MIT, Cambridge, MA, 2012-current
  • Associate Professor, Departments of Brain and Cognitive Sciences, and Biology, MIT, Cambridge, MA, 2006-2012
  • Assistant Professor, Department of Biology, MIT, Cambridge, MA, 1999-2006
  • Assistant Professor, Department Brain and Cognitive Sciences, MIT, Cambridge, MA, 1998-2006
  • Research Investigator, Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, Cold Spring Harbor, NY, 1997-1998
  • Visiting Scientist with Hollis Cline, Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, Cold Spring Harbor, NY, 1996-1997
  • Postdoctoral Fellow with Yoav Citri, Weizmann Institute, Rehovot, Israel, 1991-1996
  • Ph.D Studies with Pate Skene, Neuroscience Program, Stanford University Medical School, Stanford, CA, 1984-1991
  • Ph.D. Honors Program in Biochemistry with Michael Schramm, Hebrew University, Jerusalem, Israel, 1983-1984
  • Medical corps, Israel Defense Forces, 1975-1977
  • BCS Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching, 2018
  • Elected as AAAS Fellow 2016
  • NIH BRAIN Initiative Grant 2014-2017
  • Associate Member, The Broad Institute at Harvard and MIT 2011-present
  • AFAR Julie Martin Mid-Career Award in Aging Research, 2007 – 2011
  • Edgerly Innovation Fund Award, 2006
  • Dean’s Education and Student Advising Award, 2003
  • Middleton Career Development Endowed Professorship, 2000-2005
  • Alfred P . Sloan Research Fellowship, 1999 – 2001
  • NIH (NEI) R29 First Award, 1997 – 2002
  • NSF Powre Award, 1999
  • Ellison Medical Foundation New Scholar Award, 1997 – 2002
  • Israel Cancer Research Fund postdoctoral fellowship, 1993 – 1995
  • Eshkol postdoctoral fellowship, 1993 – 1995
  • Weizmann Institute postdoctoral fellowship, 1991 – 1993

Visit our Publications page for a list of all published papers.

  • Resident faculty, Neurobiology summer course, MBL, Woods Hole, MA, 2000
  • Steering Committee, Boston Area Neuroscience Group, 2000 – 2007
  • NIH, Special Emphasis Review Panel ZRG1, Sensorimotor Integration, 2004
  • NIH, Conte Center Review Panel ZMHI-ERB-L-03, Depression and Anxiety, 2006
  • Dept. of Brain and Cognitive Sciences Undergraduate Academic Officer, 2006 – 2008
  • Neuroscience Director, MIT-Portugal Program, 2006 – 2011
  • NIH, Special Emphasis Fellowship Review Panel F02B, Sensory, Motor, and Cognitive Sciences, 2007
  • NIH, ad-hoc reviewer NDPR Study Section, 2007
  • NIH, standing member NDPR Study Section, 2008 – 2012
  • MIT Nominations Committee, 2008 – 2012, 2018 – 2022
  • Standing Committee of External Evaluators for Neuroscience, Italian Institute of Technology, 2012 –
  • Scientific Advisory Board, Harvard/MIT Joint Research Grants Program in Basic Neuroscience, 2013 – 2015, 2019 – 2021
  • MIT Faculty Policy Committee 2013 – 2016
  • MIT Brain and Cognitive Sciences Admissions Committee, 2013 – present
  • Harvard/MIT MD-PhD Program, Subcommittee on Admission, 2016 – present
  • NIH ad hoc reviewer, NDPR-SEP Molecular Cellular Substrates of Complex Brain Disorders, 2016 – 2018
  • AAAS Member at Large, 2019 – 2023
  • Vice Chair, Gordon Research Conference, “Dendrites: Molecules, Structure, and Function”, 2019
  • Chair, Gordon Research Conference, “Dendrites: Molecules, Structure, and Function”, 2021

Teaching Outside MIT

  • Teaching Assistant, Neuroanatomy for medical students, Stanford University Medical School Stanford, CA, 1985-1990
  • Resident Faculty, Molecular Neurobiology section, Neurobiology Summer Course, Marine Biological Laboratory, Woods Hole, MA, 2000
  • Lecturer, Molecular Neurobiology section, Neurobiology Summer Course, Marine Biological Laboratory, Woods Hole, MA, 2002
  • Guest lecture, Neuroscience course for HST students (HT130.0), Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA, 2005
  • Faculty and organizer, Neuroscience module, MIT/Portugal program, 2008 – 2013

Teaching at MIT

  • 9.18/181, Developmental Neurobiology, Initiated and developed course (previously not taught at MIT), Primary instructor, 25 lectures, Fall 1999
  • 9.19/191, Cognitive and Behavioral Genetics, Initiated and developed course, (previously not taught at MIT), Organizer, Co-instructor, 3 lectures, 4 discussions, Spring 2001
  • 9.913, Intensive Neuroanatomy, Initiated and developed course, Primary instructor, 16 lectures, IAP 2002
  • 9.18/181, Developmental Neurobiology, Primary instructor, 25 lectures, Spring 2002, Spring 2003, (Maternity leave Spring 2004), Spring 2005
  • 9.18/181, Developmental Neurobiology, Primary instructor, Designated CIM (Communication Intensive), 25 lectures, 4 hrs weekly CIM preparation with students, Spring 2006, Spring 2008, Spring 2010, (Sabbatical Spring 2011), Spring 2012, Spring 2013, Spring 2014, Spring 2015, Spring 2017, Spring 2019
  • 7.22, Developmental Biology, Guest lecture, Spring 2008
Upcoming Talks
  • Sept. 3-6, 2019. Conference, Current Trends and Future Directions of Synapse-Circuit Plasticity Research, Haneda, Japan
  • Sept. 23, 2019. Seminar, Optical Imaging and Brain Sciences Group, University of Minnesota Medical School, Minneapolis, MN
  • Oct. 6, 2019. Picower Symposium, Neural Mechanisms of Memory and Cognition, Cambridge, MA
  • Oct. 28, 2019. Rett Syndrome Symposium and Workshop, Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, TX
  • Dec. 2, 2019. Seminar, Institut de Biologie de l’Ecole Normale Supérieure (IBENS) Paris, France
  • March 2-5, 2020. 14th Learning and Memory Conference: Cellular and Systems Views, Magdeburg, Germany
  • March 15-17, 2020. Weizmann Institute Conference on Plasticity and Dynamics in the Visual System – Connecting Genes, Cells and Circuits, Rehovot, Israel
  • April 6, 2020. Seminar,  Boston University, Boston, MA
  • May 15, 2020. Seminar, Baylor, Houston, TX
  • May 28, 2020. Seminar, Vollum Institute, Portland, OR