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Institute of Neuroscience Faculty

Janis Weeks
Janis Weeks

Professor, Department of Biology
B.S., 1975, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Ph.D., 1980, University of California, San Diego

Research Interests
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.


Representative Publications

University of Oregon

Last Updated 9/19/2014 -