Kafui Dzirasa
Principal Investigator
A. Eugene and Marie Washington Presidential Distinguished Professor
Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences
Professor in Neurobiology
Professor in Neurosurgery
Assistant Professor of Biomedical Engineering
Investigator in the Duke Institute for Brain Sciences
Contact Information

Dept: Psychiatry

Email: kafui.dzirasa@duke.edu

Phone: 919-668-3171

Location: 419 Bryan

Dzirasa Lab External Site

361 Bryan Research

Dzirasa Lab

We study how neuropsychiatric risk genes interact with environmental stress to modify neural circuits that underlie normal emotional and cognitive function. We use in vivo electrophysiology, cell type specific neuromodulatory techniques (optogenetics and DREADDs), and quantitative analysis of behavior in genetically modified mice.



Dzirasa Lab External Site

Dzirasa Research

Dzirasa research

The focus of our research is to determine how genetic variants interact with environmental factors (including stress and drugs of abuse) to lead to mental illness. We accomplish this by implanting multiple small electrodes directly into the brains of mice that express genes which lead to mental illness in humans. We then monitor the activity of many brain cells simultaneously as these mice perform various behavioral tasks. We also record brain activity in mice exposed to various environmental stresses, and drugs of abuse. It is our hope that these experiments will one day lead to the discovery of new treatments for our patients with mental illness. 


Dzirasa Clips

Dzirasa Publications

Mague, Stephen D., Austin Talbot, Cameron Blount, Kathryn K. Walder-Christensen, Lara J. Duffney, Elise Adamson, Alexandra L. Bey, et al. “Brain-wide electrical dynamics encode individual appetitive social behavior.” Neuron, March 14, 2022. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.neuron.2022.02.016.

Jaaro-Peled, Hanna, Sunil Kumar, Dalton Hughes, Akiko Sumitomo, Sun-Hong Kim, Sandra Zoubovsky, Yuki Hirota-Tsuyada, et al. “Regulation of sensorimotor gating via Disc1/Huntingtin-mediated Bdnf transport in the cortico-striatal circuit.” Mol Psychiatry 27, no. 3 (March 2022): 1805–15. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41380-021-01389-3.

Liston, Conor, Angela Roberts, Kafui Dzirasa, Dan Geschwind, Susanne E. Ahmari, and Christian Lüscher. “Understanding the biological basis of psychiatric disease: What's next?” Cell 185, no. 1 (January 6, 2022): 1–3. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cell.2021.12.010.

Tilghman, Shirley, Bruce Alberts, Daniel Colón-Ramos, Kafui Dzirasa, Judith Kimble, and Harold Varmus. “Concrete steps to diversify the scientific workforce.” Science 372, no. 6538 (April 9, 2021): 133–35. https://doi.org/10.1126/science.abf9679.

Dzirasa, Kafui. “Revising the a Priori Hypothesis: Systemic Racism Has Penetrated Scientific Funding.” Cell 183, no. 3 (October 29, 2020): 576–79. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cell.2020.09.026.

Weinberger, Daniel R., Kafui Dzirasa, and Lesia L. Crumpton-Young. “Missing in Action: African Ancestry Brain Research.” Neuron 107, no. 3 (August 5, 2020): 407–11. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.neuron.2020.07.008.

Dzirasa, Kafui. “For Black Scientists, the Sorrow Is Also Personal.” Cell 182, no. 2 (July 23, 2020): 263–64. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cell.2020.06.028.

Hish, A. J., G. A. Nagy, C. M. Fang, L. Kelley, C. V. Nicchitta, K. Dzirasa, and M. Zachary Rosenthal. “Acceptability and perceived effectiveness of approaches to support biomedical doctoral student wellness: One size doesn⇔t fit all.” International Journal of Doctoral Studies 15 (January 1, 2020): 653–84. https://doi.org/10.28945/4669.

Grossman, Yael, and Kafui Dzirasa. “Is depression a disorder of electrical brain networks?” Neuropsychopharmacology 45, no. 1 (January 2020): 230–31. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41386-019-0511-8.

Hish, Alexander J., Gabriela A. Nagy, Caitlin M. Fang, Lisalynn Kelley, Christopher V. Nicchitta, Kafui Dzirasa, and M Zachary Rosenthal. “Applying the Stress Process Model to Stress-Burnout and Stress-Depression Relationships in Biomedical Doctoral Students: A Cross-Sectional Pilot Study.” Cbe Life Sci Educ 18, no. 4 (December 2019): ar51. https://doi.org/10.1187/cbe.19-03-0060.

Lab Members


Research Analyst II
Lab Technician
Staff Specialist, Brain Stimulation & Neurophysiology
Lab Technician
Postdoctoral Fellow
Dzirasa Lab
Dzirasa Lab
Undergraduate Research Assistant
Undergraduate Research Assistant
Undergraduate Research Assistant


Postdoctoral Associate, Weill Cornell Medical Center
Postdoctoral Fellow
Postdoc at Boston University

Contact Dzirasa Lab

Kafui Dzirasa, MD PhD
Assistant Professor and Resident Physician
Laboratory for Psychiatric Neuroengineering, Principal Investigator
Affective Cognitive and Addiction Disorders (ACAD) Research Group


Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences
Center for Neuroengineering
Duke University Medical Center
Office: (919)-681-7371
Email: kafui.dzirasa@duke.edu


Mailing / Shipping Address:

Duke University Medical Center
Bryan Research Building Room 361
311 Research Drive, Box 3209
Durham, NC 27710