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: 27 October 2020

My laboratory uses genetically-modified mice to study the roles that certain genes and gene products play in the presentation of abnormal neuroendocrine, neurological, and psychiatric responses. Traditionally, the 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 use of genetic technologies has allowed specific genes in selected cells and in neural pathways to be related to certain molecular, biochemical, cellular, physiological, and behavioral dysfunctions. As the Director of the Mouse Behavioral and Neuroendocrine Analysis Core Facility at Duke University (http://sites.duke.edu/mousebehavioralcore/), we have phenotyped many different lines of inbred and mutant mice for my own work as well as 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. We are working also with academic medicinal chemists and/or certain pharmacological/biotechnological companies to identify novel compounds that will ameliorate abnormal responses in various mutant mouse models. Some of these preclinical studies have formed a basis for clinical trials in humans.

Education & Training

  • Ph.D., Massachusetts Institute of Technology 1983

Selected Grants

Developing a new therapeutic agent for Kabuki syndrome awarded by Rescindo Therapeutics Inc (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

Initial SHANK3 Study (Rugen E & F) awarded by Rugen Holdings (Cayman) (Principal Investigator). 2017 to 2019

Initial SHANK3 Study awarded by Rugen Holdings (Cayman) (Principal Investigator). 2016 to 2019

Linking Ciliary Biology to the Functional Annotation of Psychiatric Disorders awarded by University of Nevada - Las Vegas (Principal Investigator). 2018

Quantitative MR Microscopy of Phenotypic Biomarkers in Alzheimer's Disease awarded by National Institutes of Health (Co-Mentor). 2013 to 2018

Analysis of Shank3 Complete and Temporal and Spatial Specific Knockout Mice awarded by National Institutes of Health (Collaborator). 2012 to 2018

Receptor Regulation of CCK Cell Function awarded by National Institutes of Health (Consultant). 2013 to 2018

IPA - Jiechun Zhou awarded by National Institutes of Health (Principal Investigator). 2017 to 2018


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Urs, Nikhil M., et al. “Distinct cortical and striatal actions of a β-arrestin-biased dopamine D2 receptor ligand reveal unique antipsychotic-like properties.Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A, vol. 113, no. 50, Dec. 2016, pp. E8178–86. Pubmed, doi:10.1073/pnas.1614347113. Full Text