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Sora Shin, Ph.D.

Sora Shin, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor

Sora Shin, Ph.D. headshot

“People show a dynamic range of responses to acute and chronic stress. We first look at a functional difference in behavior and trace it to a brain region where the change originated. Then we search for therapeutic targets to correct signaling errors within a defined brain circuit."

Studying how stress influences behavior on a molecular level

How do stressful situations induce psychiatric illness?

Not all forms of stress lead to mental illness. As part of the body’s normal reaction to change, stress can be positive, playing an essential role in evolution and adaptation. Stress helps organisms survive by keeping them alert and helping them detect danger. But chronic stress without relief, and early-life stress, can come at a cost to mental and physical well-being. Dr. Shin’s team uses a combination of in vivo imaging techniques to see what’s happening at a microscopic scale in freely moving mice. The scientists image calcium to reveal neuronal activity and detect cells with impaired calcium signaling and use a variety of techniques to modulate cell activity in that select group of impaired neurons and trace the behavioral effects.

Given the circuit and synaptic complexity of the brain, the characterization of specific neural circuitry underpinning behavioral abnormalities has been challenging. However, several technical advances have given us the opportunity to more thoroughly understand circuit function. Specifically, the combination of optogenetics, in vivo imaging and viral tracing techniques has revolutionized modern neuroscience and will provide new opportunities for exploring the novel function of brain circuits. The Shin Lab uses these techniques as well as classical approaches such as surgical and pharmacologic manipulations with goal of providing a therapeutic approach for treating psychiatric symptoms caused by stress experiences.

  • Assistant Professor, Fralin Biomedical Research Institute at VTC
  • Assistant Professor, Department of Human Nutrition, Foods and Exercise, College of Agriculture and Life Sciences

You IJ*, Bae, Y*, Beck, A, Shin S (2023)Lateral hypothalamic proenkephalin neurons drive threat-induced overeating associated with a negative emotional stateNature Communications. *These authors contributed equally.

Shin S (corresponding author), You IJ, Jeong M, Bae, Y, Wang XY, Cawley M, Han A, Lim BK. (2022). Early adversity promotes binge-like eating habits by remodeling a leptin-responsive circuit that connects the lateral hypothalamus to the brainstemNature Neuroscience.

Pribiag H, Shin S, Wang E, Sun F, Datta P, Okamoto A, Guss H, Jain A, Wan XY, Freitas B, Honma P, Pate S, Lilascharoen V, Lim BK. (2021) Ventral pallidum DRD3 potentiates a pallido-habenular circuit driving accumbal dopamine release and cocaine seeking. Neuron.

Shin S, Pribiag H, Lilascharoen V, Knowland D, Wang XY, Lim BK. (2018). (2018). Drd3 signaling in the lateral septum mediates early life stress-induced social dysfunction. Neuron.

Knowland D, Lilascharoen V, Pacia CP, Shin S, Wang EH, Lim BK. (2017). (2017). Distinct ventral pallidal neural populations mediate separate symptoms of depression. Cell.

Shin S*, Kwon O*, Kang JI, Kwon S, Oh S, Choi J, Kim CH, Kim DG. (2015). (2015). mGluR5 in the nucleus accumbens is critical for promoting resilience to chronic stress. Nature Neuroscience.

  • University of California, San Diego, Division of Biological Sciences, Neurobiology Section
    Postdoctoral Fellow
  • Yonsei University College of Medicine, Department of Neuropharmocology
    Teaching Assistant
  • Yonsei University College of Medicine: Ph.D., Medical Science
  • Sungkyunkwan University College of Medicine: M.S., Physiology
  • Chung-Ang University: B.S., Biological Science
  • Kavli Institute for Brain and Mind (KIBM) innovative research grant award, 2018
  • Travel Award for Stress Neurobiology Workshop, 2018
  • Postdoctoral fellowship award, Tobacco-related disease research program, 2016
  • Korean Society of Pharmacology Award for excellent poster presentation, 2013
  • Korean Society for Brain and Neural Science Award for excellent poster presentation, 2013
  • Korean Society for Brain and Neural Science Award for excellent poster presentation, 2012
  • Annual Research Fair of Sungkyunkwan University Award for excellent presentation, 2006
  • Korean Society for Brain and Neural Science Award for excellent poster presentation, 2006
  • Korean Brain Society Award for excellent poster presentation, 2005


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