William Christopher Wetsel

William Christopher Wetsel

Associate Professor in Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences

External Address: 
354 Sands Bldg, Durham, NC 27710
Internal Office Address: 
Box 103203 Med Ctr, Durham, NC 27710


Last Updated: 31 December 1997

My laboratory uses genetically-modified mice to study the roles that certain genes and gene products play in the expression of abnormal neuroendocrine, neurological, and psychiatric responses. Traditionally, an identification of neuroendocrine dysfunction has involved biochemical analyses of hormonal responses, those for neurological disorders have relied upon behavioral and postmortem analyses, and those for psychiatric conditions have depended upon phenomenology. The advent of gene manipulation in mice has permitted specific genes to be targeted for disruption, mutation, and/or overexpression in the whole organism or in selected regions or cells in the nervous and other systems. In this way, primary and secondary effects of a given gene manipulation can be related to various neuroendoctine, neurological, or psychiatric conditions in humans. As the Director of the Mouse Behavioral and Neuroendocrine Analysis Core Facility at Duke University (http://sites.duke.edu/mousebehavioralcore/), we have neurobehaviorally phenotyped many different lines of inbred and mutant mice for investigators at Duke and at other research institutions. As a consequence, we have helped to develop many different mouse genetic models of neuroendocrine and neuropsychiatric illness. Following the development of mouse models, we have worked with various investigators to identify the molecular and cellular basis of the neuroendocrine and/or behavioral abnormalities. We are working also with medicinal chemists and certain pharmacological/biotechnological companies to identify novel compounds that will ameliorate abnormal responses in the mutant mice. Some of these preclinical studies are now forming a basis for clinical trials in humans.

Education & Training

  • Ph.D., Massachusetts Institute of Technology 1983

Selected Grants

Behavior and Physiology in Aging awarded by National Institutes of Health (Mentor). 2015 to 2020

Bioelectronic rescue of cognitive impairment after surgery awarded by National Institutes of Health (Co Investigator). 2018 to 2020

Developing a New Therapeutic Agent for Kabuki Syndrome awarded by (Principal Investigator). 2019 to 2020

Simultaneous and Bidirectional Chemogenetic Control of Mesolimbic and Nigrostriatal Circuits awarded by National Institutes of Health (Co Investigator). 2018 to 2020

MECHANISTIC INSIGHTS INTO LSD ACTIONS AT 5-HT2A-SEROTONIN RECEPTORS awarded by University of North Carolina - Chapel Hill (Principal Investigator). 2018 to 2020

Novel Adjuvants and Carriers for Opiod Vaccines awarded by National Institutes of Health (Co Investigator). 2014 to 2020

Molecular, Synaptic, and Circuit Basis for Schizophrenia-related Phenotypes awarded by National Institutes of Health (Co Investigator). 2014 to 2020

Developing a new therapeutic agent for Kabuki syndrome awarded by (Co Investigator). 2018 to 2019

Molecular and circuitry mechanism underlying autism behaviors in Shank3 mouse models awarded by National Institutes of Health (Co Investigator). 2019

Cortico-striatal neurotransmission and compulsive motor behaviors awarded by National Institutes of Health (Co Investigator). 2008 to 2019


Huffman, William J., et al. “Modulation of neuroinflammation and memory dysfunction using percutaneous vagus nerve stimulation in mice..” Brain Stimul, vol. 12, no. 1, Jan. 2019, pp. 19–29. Pubmed, doi:10.1016/j.brs.2018.10.005. Full Text

Helseth, Ashley R., et al. “Novel E815K knock-in mouse model of alternating hemiplegia of childhood..” Neurobiol Dis, vol. 119, Nov. 2018, pp. 100–12. Pubmed, doi:10.1016/j.nbd.2018.07.028. Full Text

Bey, Alexandra L., et al. “Brain region-specific disruption of Shank3 in mice reveals a dissociation for cortical and striatal circuits in autism-related behaviors..” Transl Psychiatry, vol. 8, no. 1, Apr. 2018. Pubmed, doi:10.1038/s41398-018-0142-6. Full Text

Wang, Xiaoting, et al. “Parvalbumin Interneurons of the Mouse Nucleus Accumbens are Required For Amphetamine-Induced Locomotor Sensitization and Conditioned Place Preference..” Neuropsychopharmacology, vol. 43, no. 5, Apr. 2018, pp. 953–63. Pubmed, doi:10.1038/npp.2017.178. Full Text

Martyn, Amanda C., et al. “GIT1 regulates synaptic structural plasticity underlying learning..” Plos One, vol. 13, no. 3, 2018. Pubmed, doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0194350. Full Text

McGaughey, Kara D., et al. “Comparative evaluation of a new magnetic bead-based DNA extraction method from fecal samples for downstream next-generation 16S rRNA gene sequencing..” Plos One, vol. 13, no. 8, 2018. Pubmed, doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0202858. Full Text

Butler, Ryan K., et al. “Distinct neuronal populations in the basolateral and central amygdala are activated with acute pain, conditioned fear, and fear-conditioned analgesia..” Neurosci Lett, vol. 661, Nov. 2017, pp. 11–17. Pubmed, doi:10.1016/j.neulet.2017.09.025. Full Text

Berezniuk, Iryna, et al. “ProSAAS-derived peptides are regulated by cocaine and are required for sensitization to the locomotor effects of cocaine..” J Neurochem, vol. 143, no. 3, Nov. 2017, pp. 268–81. Pubmed, doi:10.1111/jnc.14209. Full Text

Pogorelov, Vladimir M., et al. “5-HT2C Agonists Modulate Schizophrenia-Like Behaviors in Mice..” Neuropsychopharmacology, vol. 42, no. 11, Oct. 2017, pp. 2163–77. Pubmed, doi:10.1038/npp.2017.52. Full Text