Gabriela K. Popescu PhD

Gabriela Popescu

Gabriela K. Popescu


Department of Biochemistry

Jacobs School of Medicine & Biomedical Sciences

Specialty/Research Focus

Ion channel kinetics and structure; Membrane Transport (Ion Transport); Molecular Basis of Disease; Neurobiology; Neurodegenerative disorders; Neuropharmacology; Protein Function and Structure; Signal Transduction

Contact Information
955 Main Street
Buffalo NY 14203
Office 4226; Lab 4250
Buffalo, NY 14203
Phone: (716) 829-3807
Fax: (716) 829-2661

Professional Summary:

We investigate the activation mechanisms of fast neurotransmitter receptors. We seek to define the activation pathway, modulatory mechanisms and structure-function relationships of the N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA) receptor to better understand the roles played by this protein in the brain.
NMDA receptors are the most abundant glutamate-stimulated, Ca2+-conducting ion channels in brain and spinal cord. They are the predominant molecular devices for controlling synaptic development and plasticity and govern memory and learning processes. Understanding the mechanisms that control their activity may lead to more effective strategies to treat neuropathies including stroke, neurodegenerative conditions, chronic pain and addiction as well as mental disorders such as schizophrenia and epilepsy. 

Education and Training:

  • Postdoctoral NRSA Fellowship, Biophysics, University at Buffalo, SUNY (2005)
  • PhD, Biochemistry, University at Buffalo, SUNY (1999)
  • MS, Biochemistry, University of Bucharest (1985)


  • Professor, Biochemistry, University at Buffalo, SUNY (2014-present)
  • Adjunct Faculty, Physiology and Biophysics, University at Buffalo, SUNY (2005-present)
  • Adjunct Faculty, Anesthesiology, University at Buffalo, SUNY (2005-present)
  • Associate Professor, Biochemistry, University at Buffalo, SUNY (2011–2013)
  • Assistant Professor, Biochemistry, University at Buffalo, SUNY (2006–2010)

Awards and Honors:

  • Chair, AAMC Council of Faculty (2019)
  • Member, AAMC Board of Directors (2017)
  • AHA, Established Investigator Award (2012)
  • Public Lecture - Glutamate Receptors: the workhorses of your memory (2011)
  • UB Exceptional Scholars, Young Investigator Award (2010)
  • NIH/NINDS Principal Investigator (2006)
  • NIH/NIDA NRSA (2001)

Research Expertise:

  • Electrophysiology
  • Excitotoxicity
  • Ligand gated ion-channels
  • Molecular neurophysiology
  • Molecular neuroscience
  • Molecular pharmacology
  • Neurodegeneration
  • Neurophysiology
  • Single-molecule techniques
  • Synaptic plasticity
  • Synaptic transmission

UB 2020 Strategic Strengths:

  • Molecular Recognition in Biological Systems and Bioinformatics

Grants and Sponsored Research:

  • March 2016–February 2020
    Permeation Mechanisms in NMDA receptors
    Role: Principal Investigator
  • January 2016–January 2018
    Role: Principal Investigator
  • January 2012–December 2016
    Selective modulation of native NMDA receptors
    AHA Established Investigator Award
    Role: Principal Investigator
  • July 2006–April 2016
    Allosteric Modulation of NMDA receptors
    Role: Principal Investigator
  • September 2010–May 2012
    Calcium modulation of synaptic receptors
    Role: Co-Investigator
  • June 2008–May 2010
    NMDA receptors with restricted mobility of ligand-binding domains
    Role: Principal Investigator
  • July 2005–June 2009
    Modulation of NMDA receptor by neurosteroids
    AHA Scientist Development Grant
    Role: Principal Investigator
  • August 2001–August 2004
    NMDA Receptor: kinetic modeling and mapping of the glutamate-binding domain
    NIH/NRSA F32
    Role: Principal Investigator

Journal Articles:

See all (37 more)

Professional Memberships:

  • ASBMB, American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology (2014–present)
  • AAMC, American Association of Medical Colleges (2012–present)
  • ASPET, America Society for Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics (2012–present)
  • IBRO, International Brain Research Organization (2000–present)
  • SfN, Society for Neuroscience (1999–present)
  • BPS, Biophysical Society (1999–present)
  • AAAS, American Association for the Advancement of Science (1999–present)
  • UBAA, UB Alumni Association


  • "The place of PhDs in the medical centers of tommorrow" AAMC CFAS Spring Conference, AAMC, CFAS (2017)
  • "Glycinergic Excitatory Receptors" University of Washington, Physiology, University of Washington (2016)
  • "Glycinergic excitatory receptors: NMDA receptors in name only" GRC/Excitatory Transmission in Brain Function (2016)
  • "Mechanisms in NMDA receptor signaling" Johns Hopkins University, Physiology, Physiology (2015)
  • "Why Support Basic Research" AAMC Annual Meeting, AAMC (2015)
  • "NMDA Receptors: learning from singles" Harvard University, Mol Cel Biol (2015)
  • "Participation in Faculty Governance" AAMC/Spring CFAS Meeting, AAMC (2015)
  • "Glycinergic NMDA receptors" Biophysical Society Annual Meeting, Biophysical Society, Symposium on Molecules of Memory (2015)
  • "Preserving Science" AAMC Annual Meeting, AAMC (2014)
  • "NMDA receptors: Learning from Singles" RIT Student Research Seminar, Rochester Institute of Technology (2014)
  • "New inhibitory interface in NMDA receptors" GRC/Ion Channels (2012)
  • "Glutamate Receptors: The workhorses of your memory" UB Summer Public Lecture Series (2011)
  • "Modes of NMDA receptor gating" GEPROM Symposium on Membrane Proteins, Montreal (2011)
See all (3 more)

Service Activities:

  • Jacobs School of Medicine & Biomedical Sciences Admissions Committee; Member (2017–2020)
  • Faculty Senate; School Representative (2013–2017)
  • Faculty Senate Executive Committee; Member (2013–2017)
  • AAMC, Board of Directors; Member (2017–2023)
  • AAMC, Council of Faculty and Academic Societies; Chair (2017–2023)
  • JSMBS Faculty Council, Basic Science Representative; Member (2016–2018)
  • Biophysical Society, Committee on Professional Opportunities for Women (CPOW); Chair (2015–2018)
  • Biophysical Society, Council; Councilor (2015–2018)
  • NIH/NTRC Study Section; Member (2014–2020)
  • Faculty Council, Steering Committee on Tenure and Promotions; Member (2014–2017)
  • Journal of Neurochemistry; Editorial Board Member (2013–2016)
  • AAMC, CFAS Administrative Board; Member (2013–2016)
  • Biochemistry, Graduate Affairs Committee; Director (2013–2014)
  • MSTP, Admissions Committee; Member (2012–2018)
  • Biophysical Society, Career Conversations; Panel Member (2012)
  • Biophysical Society, Committee on Professional Opportunities for Women (CPOW); Member (2011–2015)
  • PPBS, Steering Committee; Member (2010–2012)
  • Society for Neuroscience, Buffalo Chapter; President (2009–2010)
  • Biochemistry, Seminar Program; Coordinator (2007–2008)
  • UB Postdoctoral Education, Steering Committee; Member (2005–2008)

School News:

In the Media:

Clinical Specialties:

Clinical Offices:

Insurance Accepted:

Contact Information

955 Main Street
Buffalo NY 14203
Office 4226; Lab 4250
Buffalo, NY 14203
Phone: (716) 829-3807
Fax: (716) 829-2661