Institute of Neuroscience Faculty
Professor, Department of Biology
B.S., 1975, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Ph.D., 1980, University of California, San Diego
Technology development for anthelmintic (anti-nematode) drug screening to advance human and animal health; nematode neurobiology and genetics; synaptic physiology; neural circuits for behavior; insect neurobiology; tropical infectious and parasitic diseases; research and education capacity building in Africa.
Traditionally, research in the Weeks lab has investigated hormonal regulation of the structure, function and survival of neurons and neural circuits, using electrophysiology, biophysics, genetics, genomics, behavioral analysis and other approaches. This work focused on an extreme example of natural neural plasticity: insect metamorphosis in the moth, Manduca sexta, and fruit fly, Drosophila melanogaster, when neural circuits are reorganized to accommodate different life stages. Hormones similarly influence the vertebrate nervous system with relevance to human health such as Alzheimer's Disease and stress-induced cognitive decline.
Since the mid-1990s, Weeks has increasingly been involved with research and education in Africa, and the study of tropical parasitic and infectious diseases. Within this context, the Weeks lab has turned its focus to the small roundworm, C. elegans, a powerful model organism for biological inquiry. Nematode infections (e.g., hookworm, river blindness, filarial diseases) cause chronic, debilitating disease in many regions of the world as well as significant animal health problems. Existing anthelmintic (anti-nematode) drugs are losing potency due to increasing resistance in the parasites, and new drugs are critically needed. In collaboration with the laboratory of Shawn Lockery, Weeks and collaborators are using new technologies (e.g., combined microfluidics and electrophysiology), applied to C. elegans, to accelerate the screening process for new anthelmintic drugs. Weeks and Lockery recently formed a UO-affiliated company, NemaMetrix LLC, to enhance commercialization of these innovations.
Weeks has taught in and organized advanced neuroscience courses throughout Africa (e.g., Senegal, Egypt, Kenya, Democratic Republic of Congo, South Africa, Ghana) for graduate and medical students, and neuroscience faculty, under the auspices of the International Brain Research Organization. A member of the African Studies Program, Weeks performs healthcare fieldwork in Zimbabwe and is a student and performer of Zimbabwean music. At UO, she developed new courses in global health [“Tropical Disease in Africa” (Bi309) and “HIV/AIDS in Africa” (BI410/510)].
The Weeks lab is committed to diversity and welcomes women, international students and members of underrepresented groups.
- Winbush A & Weeks JC (2011) Steroid-triggered, cell-autonomous death of a Drosophila motoneuron during metamorphosis. Neural Development 6:15
- Hazelett DJ & Weeks JC (2005) Segment-specific muscle degeneration is triggered directly by a steroid hormone during insect metamorphosis. J Neurobiol. 62:164-77.
- REVIEW. Weeks JC (2003) Thinking globally, acting locally: steroid hormone regulation of the dendritic architecture, synaptic connectivity and death of an individual neuron. Prog Neurobiol. 70:421-42.
- Gray JR & Weeks JC (2003) Steroid-induced dendritic regression reduces anatomical contacts between neurons during synaptic weakening and the developmental loss of a behavior. J. Neurosci. 23:1406-1415.
- Kinch GL, Hoffman KL, Rodrigues EM, Zee MC & Weeks JC (2003) Steroid-triggered programmed cell death of a motoneuron is autophagic and involves structural alterations in mitochondria. J. Comp. Neurol. 457:384-403.
- Zee MC & Weeks JC (2001) Developmental change in the steroid hormone signal for cell-autonomous, segment-specific programmed cell death of a motoneuron. Dev. Biol. 235:45-61.
- Hoffman KL & Weeks JC (2001) Role of caspases and mitochondria in the steroid-induced programmed cell death of a motoneuron during metamorphosis. Dev. Biol. 229:517-536.
- Wiel DE, Wood E & Weeks JC (2001) Habituation of the proleg withdrawal reflex in Manduca sexta does not involve changes in motoneuron properties or depression at the sensorimotor synapse. Neurobiology of Learning and Memory 76:57-80.
- Novicki A & Weeks JC (2000) Developmental attenuation of Manduca pre-ecdysis behavior involves neural changes upstream of motoneurons and relay interneurons. J. Comp. Physiol. A 186:69-79.
- Sandstrom DJ & Weeks JC (1998) Segment-specific retention of a larval neuromuscular system and its role in a new, rhythmic pupal motor pattern in Manduca sexta. J. Comp. Physiol. A. 183:283-302.
- Streichert LC, Pierce JT, Nelson JA & Weeks JC (1997) Segment-specific programmed cell death of identified motoneurons triggered directly by steroid hormones in vitro. Dev. Biol. 183:95-107.
- Lubischer JL & Weeks JC (1996) Target muscles and sensory afferents do not influence steroid-regulated, segment-specific death of identified motoneurons in Manduca sexta. J. Neurobiol. 31:449-460.
- Streichert LC & Weeks JC (1995) Decreased monosynaptic sensory input to an identified motoneuron is associated with steroid-mediated dendritic regression during metamorphosis in Manduca sexta. J. Neurosci. 15:1484-1495.