Fereshteh S. Nugent


Department of Primary Appointment:
School of Medicine
Pharmacology & Molecular Therapeutics
Professor - Pharmacology & Neuroscience
Location: Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences, Bethesda, MD
Research Interests:
Synaptic plasticity, Reward Pathway, Drug Addiction, Neuropsychiatric Disorders
Early Life Stress, Novel Antidepressants, Traumatic Brain Injury
Office Phone


Ph.D., Neurophysiology, Tarbiat Modarres University, Tehran, Iran, 2003
Postdoctoral, Neuroscience, Brown University


Dr. Fereshteh Nugent received her Ph.D. in Neurophysiology from Tarbiat Modarres University in Tehran, Iran, in 2003. She became a postdoctoral fellow at Brown University from 2003 to 2008. In 2009, she joined the faculty of the Department of Pharmacology at Uniformed Services University and is now a tenured Professor at Pharmacology and Neuroscience Departments. Research in her laboratory explores effects of severe early life stress and mild traumatic brain injuries on synaptic transmission and plasticity of distinct reward and motivational circuits. To identify molecular, synaptic, neuromodulatory and circuit mechanisms contributing to motivated behavior as well as neuropsychiatric illnesses and vulnerability to drug addiction following stress and brain trauma, her lab uses a variety of neuroscience techniques that include slice electrophysiology, immunohistochemistry and behavioral techniques combined with viral-based tracing and labeling, optogenetic circuit mapping and chemogenetics.

Nugent Lab

Postdoctoral Fellows: Dr. Ludovic Langlois, Dr. Sarah Simmons

Graduate Students: William Flerlage, Christopher Bouslog

Lab Alumni

Dr. Matthieu Dacher (Université Pierre et Marie Curie, France), Dr. Jayaraj N. Kodangattil, Dr. Haifa Kassis, Dr. Michael Authement (NIAAA), Dr. Ryan Shepard (NINDS)

Career Highlights: Positions, Projects, Deployements, Awards and Additional Publications

2019-2023 Nominated and appointed Regular Member/Reviewer for NMB NIH Study Section

Associate Editor for Frontiers in Synaptic Neuroscience and Frontiers in Neuropharmacology

Editorial Board Member for Communications Biology and Journal of Neuroscience Research

2015 USU Hébert School of Medicine Dean Impact Award for outstanding contributions in research, education and service

Selected as a mentor for the 2018 NIDA Summer Research Internship Program

2018 USU Hébert School of Medicine Dean Impact Award for outstanding contributions in research, education and service

2019 USU Hébert School of Medicine Dean Recognition for contributions to Neuroscience Module

2019 USU Hébert School of Medicine Dean Impact Award for outstanding contributions in research, education and service

2019 Recipient of the 2019 Henry C. Wu Award for Excellence in Basic Science at USU

Representative Bibliography

William J. Flerlage, Ludovic D. Langlois, Milan Rusnak, Sarah C. Simmons, Shawn Gouty, Regina C. Armstrong, Brian M. Cox, Aviva J. Symes, Mumeko C. Tsuda, and Fereshteh S. Nugent. Involvement of Lateral Habenula Dysfunction in Repetitive Mild Traumatic Brain Injury–Induced Motivational Deficits. Journal of Neurotrauma..125-140.(2023)

Shepard R.D., Langlois, L.D., Browne C.A., Berenji A., Lucki L., and Nugent F.S., Ketamine Reverses Lateral Habenula Neuronal Dysfunction and Behavioral Immobility in the Forced Swim Test Following Maternal Deprivation in Late Adolescent Rats. Front. Synaptic Neurosci., 10:39 (2018)

Authement M.E., Langlois L. D., Shepard R.D., Browne C.A., Lucki L., Kassis H., and Nugent F.S., A role for corticotrophin releasing factor signaling in the lateral habenula and its modulation by early life stress, Science Signaling, 11:520 (2018)

Langlois, L.D. and Nugent F.S. Opiates and plasticity in ventral tegmental area, Invited Review, ACS Chemical Neuroscience, 20;8(9):1830-1838 (2017)

Authement M.E., Kodangattil J.N.,Gouty,S., Rusnak, M., Symes A.J., Cox B.M., and Nugent F.S., Histone deacetylase inhibition rescues maternal deprivation-induced GABAergic metaplasticity through restoration of AKAP signaling, Neuron, 86: 1240–1252 (2015)

Dacher, M. A., Gouty, S., Dash, S., Cox, B.M., and Nugent, F.S., A-kinase anchoring protein-calcineurin signaling in long-term depression of GABAergic synapses, Journal of Neuroscience, 33:2650-60 (2013) Nugent, F.S., Penick, E.C., Kauer, J.A., Opiates block long-term potentiation of GABAergic synapses. Nature, 466: 1086-1095 (2007)