Roh-Yu Shen PhD

Roh-Yu Shen

Roh-Yu Shen

Professional Summary:

My research focuses on how prenatal environmental factors such as prenatal ethanol exposure and prenatal stress exposure alter various brain circuitries and how these effects lead to cognitive and behavioral deficits (impaired executive function, increased addiction risk, and anxiety) later in life. We also study how enriched postnatal environment can ameliorate these deficits. A wide array of techniques is used in my research, including cellular and system electrophysiology, immunocytochemistry, and various behavioral techniques. These techniques allow us to investigate changes in brain functions at cellular, circuitry, and behavioral levels. Our major discovery is that prenatal ethanol or prenatal stress exposure can lead to over-excitation of dopamine (DA) neurons located in the ventral tegmental area (VTA) and enhance their responses to drugs of abuse andcontribute to increased addiction risk. At this time, we are also investigating how prenatal ethanol exposure leads to impaired executive function and anixety-like behavior and the underlying mechanisms. My research contributes to the understanding of brain mechanisms mediating cognitive and behaviroal deficits in fetal alcohol spectrum disorders (FASD). These findings may lead to better treatment strategies of FASD.

Education and Training:

  • PhD, Behavioral Neuroscience, Wayne State University (1989)
  • MS, Behavioral Neuroscience, Wayne State University (1987)
  • BS, Psychology, National Taiwan University (1983)


  • Research Associate Professor, Pathology and Anatomical Sciences, Phamacology and Toxicology, Psychology

Grants and Sponsored Research:

  • September 2018–August 2023
    Prenatal ethanol exposure and nitric oxide signaling in serotonin neurons
    Role: Co-Investigator
  • June 2018–March 2023
    Prenatal ethanol exposure on executive function
    Role: Principal Investigator
  • December 2010–November 2017
    Addiction Propensity After Prenatal Ethanol Exposure.
    Role: Principal Investigator
  • April 2007–March 2011
    Dopamine function after prenatal ethanol exposure
    Role: Principal Investigator
  • January 1999–January 2005
    NIH/NIAAA 12435
    Role: Principal Investigator

Journal Articles:

See all (22 more)

Service Activities:

  • Neurobiology of Motivated Behavior Study Section (NMB);; Ad Hoc Reviewer
  • NIAAA; The Neurotoxicology and Alcohol Study Section (NAL);; Panel Member

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Contact Information

1021 Main Street
Buffalo, New York 14203
Phone: (716) 887-2593