Dr. Robert Renden

( University of Nevada, Reno )


(775) 784-4352
  • Institution:University of Nevada, Reno
  • Departments: physiology and cell biology
  • Research Fields: Synapse, Neuron, Brain
  • Disciplines: Biological and Biomedical Sciences, Cell Physiology, Neurobiology and Neurosciences
  • Funding:NIH - National Institutes of Health, NSF - National Science Foundation


In my role as head of an independent research lab, I have supervised 4 postdoctoral fellows, all of which are still working in science and research-related fields. I have had the pleasure of mentoring four graduate students to date, as well as multiple undergraduates since starting my lab in 2013. I have matriculated one Ph.D. thus far (Brendan Lujan, 2016) who went on to a postdoctoral fellowship at the Vollum Institute, and was a recipient of an NIH F32 fellowship. I currently have a one graduate student in my lab.
I have no formal responsibility for undergraduate teaching but am highly committed to undergraduate research opportunities. My laboratory has hosted (19) undergraduate students and (5) volunteers transitioning between undergraduate and graduate programs, to date. Of these, (11) are pursuing science-related careers, and (6) have gone on to advanced STEM degrees.
I am devoted to diversity and inclusion of under-represented individuals in research. My lab has hosted a balanced group of individuals since 2013, including Hispanic and Asian students, and a 1:1 male:female ratio.
I am also currently mentoring three research faculty (Assistant Professors) at UNR as they negotiate the federal funding landscape , and/or promotion and tenure applications.


We study the mechanisms that permit rapid and sustained synaptic transmission in the mouse brain, predominantly using the calyx of Held as a model synapse. This giant glutamatergic synapse in the auditory brainstem has a number of experimental advantages that permit us to trace the fundamental mechanisms that underlie chemical neurotransmission. We apply a variety of genetic and viral transduction techniques to disrupt presynaptic function at the calyx through transgenic mouse models, and expression in neuronal populations using adeno-associated virus (AAV). We use whole cell electrophysiology to record activity from the presynaptic or postsynaptic compartments (and sometimes both!) We complement these recordings with the use of use organic and genetically-encoded probes for functional imaging of essential messengers (Ca2+ ATP, and others).