Kenneth Colodner

  • Associate Professor of Neuroscience and Behavior
  • on leave fall 2022
  • Chair of Neuroscience and Behavior (spring 2023)
Kenneth Colodner

Ken Colodner is a cellular and molecular neuroscientist whose research is focused on understanding how communication between the two major cell types in the brain, neuronal and glial cells, is disrupted in neurodegenerative diseases. He is particularly interested in understanding the disease process of Alzheimer's disease and related tauopathies, a class of diseases characterized by the pathological buildup of the protein, tau. Using modern genetic techniques in the fruit fly, Drosophila melanogaster, he examines the functional consequences of tau expression on neuronal-glial interactions in the fly brain. These experiments are aimed towards understanding mechanisms of tau toxicity, and identifying novel, therapeutic targets for these disorders.

As a doctoral student at Harvard Medical School, Ken Colodner worked with pioneers in the field of neurodegenerative disease research to identify a role for glial cell dysfunction in contributing to neurodegenerative disease progression. As a postdoctoral fellow at Boston Children's Hospital, he helped identify key mediators of synapse loss in models of aging and Alzheimer's disease. His research has been published in the Journal of Neuroscience, Journal of Neuropathology and Experimental Neurology, and the Journal of Experimental Neuroscience.

Throughout his previous research training, Ken Colodner has taught full-year seminars on glial cells and has served as a teaching fellow for Behavioral Neuroscience and Biology of Neurodegenerative Diseases at Harvard University. He has twice been awarded the Derek Bok Certificate of Distinction in Teaching. At Mount Holyoke he teaches Introduction to Neuroscience and Behavior, Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience, and Biology of Neurological Disease.


  • B.A., Northwestern University
  • Ph.D., Harvard University
  • Postdoctoral Fellow, Boston Children's Hospital


Recent Campus News

The new advanced microscopy system will bring new research, interdisciplinary collaboration and community outreach opportunities to Mount Holyoke.

Students of Mount Holyoke’s expanding neuroscience program shine at annual NEURON conference.

Recent Grants

Received an RCN/UBE grant from the National Science Foundation (subaward from Appalachian State University) for “Connectomes for Undergraduate Neuroscience Education and Learning (CUNEL).” The project is for three years. (2022)

Recent Publications

Nangia, V. [MHC '16], O’Connell, J. ['19], Chopra, K ['20], Qing, Y.['21], Reppert, C. ['18], Chai, C. ['14], Bhasiin, K. ['22], and Colodner, K.J. (2021) Genetic reduction of tyramine β hydroxylase suppresses Tau toxicity in a Drosophila model of tauopathy. Neuroscience Letters, Apr 25: 135937. doi: 10.1016/j.neulet.2021.135937

Botero, V. [MHC '18], Stahl, B., Grenci, E.C., Boto, T., Park, S.J., King, L.B., Murphy, K.R., Colodner, K.J., Walker, J.A., Keene, A.C., Ja, W.W., Tomchik, S.M. (2021) Neurofibromin regulates metabolic rate via neuronal mechanisms in Drosophila. Nature Communications, Jul 13;12(1):4285. doi: 10.1038/s41467-021-24505-x.

Scarpelli EM, Trinh VY [MHC '18], Tashnim Z [MHC '19], Krans JL, Keller LC, Colodner KJ. (2019). Developmental expression of human tau in Drosophila melanogaster glial cells induces motor deficits and disrupts maintenance of PNS axonal integrity, without affecting synapse formation. PLoS One, 14(12):e0226380.

Kahlson M.** and Colodner K.J.. (2016) Glial tau pathology in tauopathies: Functional consequences. Journal of Experimental Neuroscience, 9(Suppl 2):43-50. [invited review]
**denotes Mount Holyoke College undergraduate student

Shi Q.*, Colodner K.J.*, Matousek S.B., Merry K., Hong S., Kenison J.E., Frost J.L., Le K.K., Li S., Dodart, J.C., Caldarone B.J., Stevens B., Lemere C.A. (2015) Complement C3-deficient mice fail to display age-related hippocampal decline. Journal of Neuroscience, 35(38):13029-42.
* Co-first author.

View More