Pathobiology and Molecular Medicine  Back to Main

Faculty Detail    
Campus Address SC 7TH Zip 0017
Phone  (205) 975-0312
Other websites

Undergraduate  University of Pittsbrugh    1999  B.S. 
Graduate  University of Michigan    2004  Ph.D. 
Fellowship  University of Michigan    2010  Postdoctoral Fellow/Junior Faculty 

Faculty Appointment(s)
Appointment Type Department Division Rank
Primary  Neurobiology  Neurobiology Associate Professor Adjunct

Graduate Biomedical Sciences Affiliations
Cell, Molecular, & Developmental Biology 
Pathobiology and Molecular Medicine 

Biographical Sketch 
Throughout my career, I have been driven by a strong interest in the biological underpinnings of psychiatric disorders. My Ph.D. work used human postmortem tissue as well as animal models to examine neuroanatomical and molecular abnormalities involved in the pathophysiology of schizophrenia. During my postdoctoral training, I developed a novel rat model of co-morbid anxiety and depression to study possible genetic, developmental, and environmental factors that underlie innate differences in emotional behavior and stress susceptibility. In January 2011, I joined the faculty in the Department of Psychiatry at UAB. My research program uses animal models relevant to psychiatric and neurodevelopmental disorders to study how perturbations of brain development may lead to life-long emotional and/or cognitive dysfunction. The laboratory uses a multidisciplinary approach, combining molecular, neuroanatomical, and behavioral approaches in animal models, to address such questions.

Society Memberships
Organization Name Position Held Org Link
American College of Neuropsychopharmacology  Associate Member 
Soceity for Neuroscience  Member 

Research/Clinical Interest
The interplay of genes, stress, development and risk for mental illness
Inborn differences in personality and emotional reactivity strongly shape how individuals respond to stress and increase vulnerability to psychiatric disorders such as depression and anxiety. This biological endowment powerfully interacts with early-life environmental influences, such as exposure to early-life stress or pharmacological agents, and together these factors sculpt neural and emotional development. Understanding the neurobiological mechanisms whereby inborn and environmental factors interact to contribute to the affective dysfunction in the developing brain is crucial for generating improved preventative treatments. My current research utilizes molecular, neuroanatomical, and behavioral approaches in rodent models to examine how perturbed brain development may contribute to emotional dysfunction later in life. Unraveling the complicated genetic, neurobiological, and environmental interactions in rodents should yield important results to inform work in humans, and may ultimately impact our understanding of the developmental neurobiology of emotional disorders such as anxiety and depression.

Selected Publications 
Publication PUBMEDID
Cohen JL*, Glover ME*, Pugh PC, Kerman IA, Fant AD, Simmons RK, Akil H, Clinton SM. Maternal style shapes limbic brain development and emotional behavior in rats genetically-prone to high anxiety. Developmental Neuroscience, In Press 2015.   
Glover ME, Pugh PC, Cohen J, Akil H, Clinton SM. Early-life Paroxetine Exposure Exacerbates Depression-like Behavior in Anxiety/Depression-prone rats. Neuroscience, 284: 775-797, 2015.   25451292  
Rana S, Pugh PC, Jackson N, Clinton SM, Kerman IA. Inborn Stress Reactivity Shapes Adult Behavioral Consequences of Early-Life Maternal Separation Stress. Neuroscience Letters, 584: 146-150, 2015.   25451726  
Nam H, Clinton SM, Jackson NL, Kerman IA. Learned helplessness and social avoidance in the Wistar-Kyoto rat. Frontiers in Behavioral Neuroscience, In Press, 2014.  24744709  
Taylor EW, Wang K, Nelson AR, Bredemann TM, Fraser K, Clinton SM, Marchase RB, Chatham JC, McMahon LL. O-GlcNAcylation of AMPA receptor GluA2 is associated with a novel form of long term depression at hippocampal synapses. Journal of Neuroscience, 34(1): 10-21, 2014.   24381264  
Clinton SM, Miller S, Watson SJ, Akil H. Selectively-bred low novelty-seeking rats are more vulnerable to the negative physiological effects of maternal separation stress compared to nigh novelty-seekers. 17(1): 97-107, Stress, 2014.   24090131  
Simmons RK, Stringfellow SA, Wagle AA, Glover ME, Clinton SM. Epigenetic markers in the developing rat brain. Brain Research, 1533: 26-36, 2013.   23954679  
Clinton SM, Glover ME, Maltare A, Laszczyk AM, Mehi SJ, Simmons RK, King GD.Expression of klotho mRNA and protein in rat brain parenchyma from early postnatal development into adulthood. Brain Res. 2013 Aug 21;1527:1-14.  23838326 
Flagel SB, Waselus M, Clinton SM, Watson SJ, Akil H. Antecedents and Consequences of Drug Abuse in Rats Selectively Bred for High and Low Response to Novelty. Neuropsychopharmaocology Reviews, In Press, 2013  23639434 
Cummings JA, Clinton SM, Perry AN, Akil H, Becker JB. Male rats that differ in their response to novelty demonstrate differences in sexual behavior, Behavioral Neuroscience, 127(1): 47-58, 2013.   23398441 
Clinton SM, Turner CA, Flagel SB, Simpson DN, Watson SJ, Akil H. Neonatal Fibroblast Growth Factor Treatment Enhances Cocaine Sensitization. Pharmacology, Biochemistry & Behavior, 103(1): 6-17, 2012.   22819969 
Simmons RK, Howard JL, Simpson DN, Akil H, Clinton SM. DNA methylation in the developing hippocampus and amygdala of anxiety-prone versus risk-taking rats, Developmental Neuroscience, 34(1):58-67 2012.   22572572 
García-Fuster MJ, Parks GS; Clinton SM, Watson SJ, Akil H, Civellia O. The Melanin-Concentrating Hormone (MCH) System in an Animal Model of Depression-Like Behavior. European Neuropharmacology,22(8): 607-613, 2012.   22209364 
Clinton SM*, Kerman IA*, Orr HR, Bedrosian TA, Abraham AD, Simpson DN, Watson SJ, Akil H. Pattern of forebrain activation in high novelty-seeking rats following aggressive encounter. Brain Research, 1422: 20-31, 2011.   21974861 
Kerman IA*, Clinton SM*, Bedrosian TA, Abraham AD, Rosenthal D, Akil H, Watson SJ. High novelty-seeking predicts aggression and gene expression differences within defined serotonergic cell groups. Brain Research, 1419: 34-45, 2011.   21925645 
Clinton SM*, Stead JDH*, Miller S, Watson SJ, Akil H. Developmental underpinnings of individual differences in rodent novelty-seeking and emotional reactivity. European Journal of Neuroscience, 34(6): 994-1005, 2011.   21864320 
Kerman, IA*, Clinton SM*, Simpson DN, Bedrosian TA, Bernard R, Akil H, Watson SJ. Inborn Differences in Environmental Reactivity Predict Divergent Diurnal Behavioral, Endocrine, and Gene Expression Rhythms. Psychoneuroendocrinology, 37(2): 256-69. 2012.   21775066 
Turner CA, Clinton SM, Thompson RC, Watson SJ, Akil H. FGF2 augmentation early in life alters hippocampal development and rescues the anxiety phenotype in vulnerable animals. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the USA, 108(19): 8021-25, 2011. Epub   21518861 
Cummings JA, Gowl BA, Westenbroek C, Clinton SM, Akil H, Becker JBB. Differential Effects of a Selectively-Bred Novelty-Seeking Phenotype and Sex Differences on the Motivation to Take Cocaine in Rats. Biology of Sex Differences, 2:3, 2011  21396095 
Stedenfeld KA, Clinton SM, Kerman IA, Akil H, Watson SJ, Sved AF. Novelty-Seeking Behavior Predicts Vulnerability in a Rodent Model of Depression. Physiology & Behavior, 103(2):210-16, 2011 Epub   21303678 
Flagel SB*, Clark JJ*, Robinson TE, Mayo L, Czuj A, Willuhn I, Akers CA, Clinton SM, Phillips PEM, Akil H. A selective role for dopamine in reward learning. Nature, 469(7328):53-57, 2011. Epub   21150898 
Clinton SM*, Bedrosian TA*, Abraham AD, Watson SJ, Akil H. Neural and Environmental Factors Impacting Maternal Behavior Differences in High- versus Low-Novelty Seeking Rats. Hormones and Behavior, 57(4-5): 463-473, 2010. Epub.   20156440 
García-Fuster MJ, Perez JA, Clinton SM, Watson SJ, Akil H. Impact of cocaine on adult hippocampal neurogenesis in an animal model of differential propensity to drug abuse. European Journal of Neuroscience, 31(1):79-89, 2010.  20104651  
Flagel SB, Robinson TE, Clark JJ, Clinton SM, Watson SJ, Seeman P, Phillips PEM, Akil H. An Animal Model of Genetic Vulnerability to Behavioral Disinhibition and Responsiveness to Reward-Related Cues: Implications for Addiction. Neuropsychopharmacology, 35(2):388-400, 2010. Epub.   19794408 
Perez JA, Clinton SM, Turner CA, Watson SJ, Akil H. A New Role for FGF2 as an Endogenous Inhibitor of Anxiety. Journal of Neuroscience, 29(19):6379-87, 2009.   19439615 
Turner CA, Capriles N, Flagel SB, Perez JA, Clinton SM, Watson SJ, Akil H. Neonatal FGF2 alters cocaine self-administration in the adult rat. Pharmacology, Biochemistry, and Behavior, 92(1): 100-104, 2009.   19014962 
Turner CA, Flagel SB, Clinton SM, Akil H, Watson, SJ. Cocaine interacts with the novelty-seeking trait to modulate FGFR1 gene expression in the rat. Neuroscience Letters, 446(2-3): 105-107, 2008  18824081 
García-Fuster MJ, Clinton SM, Watson SJ, and Akil H. Effect of Cocaine on Fas-Associated Protein with Death Domain (FADD) in the Rat Brain: Individual Differences in a Model of Differential Vulnerability to Drug Abuse. Neuropsychopharmacology, 34(5) 1123-34, 2009.   18580876 
Davis BA*, Clinton SM*, Huda Akil, Jill B. Becker. The effects of novelty-seeking phenotypes and sex differences on acquisition of cocaine self-administration in selectively-bred High-Responder and Low-Responder rats. Pharmacology, Biochemistry, and Behavior, 90(3):331-8, 2008.   18445506 
Clinton SM, Miller S, Watson SJ, Akil H. Prenatal stress does not alter innate novelty-seeking behavioral traits, but differentially affects individual differences in neuroendocrine stress responsivity. Psychoneuroendocrinology, 33(2):162-77, 2008.   18077099 
Clinton SM*, Vazquez DM*, Kabbaj M, Kabbaj M-H, Watson SJ and Akil H. Individual differences in novelty-seeking and emotional reactivity correlate with variation in maternal behavior. Hormones and Behavior, 51(5): 655-664, 2007.   17462647 
Clinton SM, Haroutunian V, Meador-Woodruff JH. Altered protein expression of select NMDA receptor subunits and associated intracellular proteins in limbic thalamus in schizophrenia. Journal of Neurochemistry, 98(4):1114-25, 2006.   16762023 
Stead JDH*, Clinton SM*, Neal CR, Schneider J, Jama A, Miller S, Watson SJ and Akil H. Selective breeding for divergence in novelty-seeking traits: Evidence for enrichment of anxiety-related behaviors. Behavioral Genetics, 36(5):697-712, 2006.   16502134 
Clinton SM, Ivan Sucharski, Finlay JM. Desipramine attenuates working memory impairments induced by partial loss of dopamine in the rat prefrontal cortex. Psychopharmacology, 183(4):404-12, 2006.   16307295 
Clinton SM, Ibrahim H, Frey KA, Davis KL, Haroutunian V, and Meador-Woodruff JH. Dopaminergic abnormalities in the thalamus in schizophrenia involve the intracellular signal integrating proteins calcyon and spinophilin. American Journal of Psychiatry, 162: 1859 – 1871, 2005.   16199832 
Clinton SM, Meador-Woodruff JH. Structural, functional, and neurochemical abnormalities of the thalamus in schizophrenia. Schizophrenia Research, 69(2-3): pp 237-253, 2004.   15469196 
Clinton SM and Meador-Woodruff JH. Abnormalities of the NMDA receptor and associated intracellular molecules in the thalamus in schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. Neuropsychopharmacology, 29, pp 1353-1362, 2004.   15054476 
Meador-Woodruff JH, Clinton SM, Beneyto M, and McCullumsmith RE. Molecular abnormalities of the glutamate synapse in the thalamus in schizophrenia. Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences, 1003: pp 7-93, 2003.   14684436 
Clinton SM, Haroutunian V, Davis KL, Meador-Woodruff JH. Altered transcript expression of NMDA receptor-associated postsynaptic density proteins in the thalamus in schizophrenia. American Journal of Psychiatry 160: pp 1100-1109, 2003.   12777268 
Clinton SM, Meador-Woodruff JH. Nucleus-specific expression of NMDA receptor-associated post-synaptic density proteins in primate thalamus. Thalamus and Related Systems 1: pp 303-316, 2002.   
Clinton SM, Abelson S, Haroutunian V, Davis KL, Meador-Woodruff JH. Neurofilament subunit transcript expression is altered in the thalamus in schizophrenia. Thalamus and Related Systems, 2/4: pp 265-272, 2004.   

stress, depression, anxiety, development