Skip to Main Content


Haig Keshishian, PhD

Professor of Molecular, Cellular, and Developmental Biology; Co-Director, Yale Interdepartmental Neuroscience Program

Contact Information

Haig Keshishian, PhD


I began my research as a neurobiology graduate student at UC Berkeley, where I worked in David Bentley's lab (1976-1982) for my doctorate. I studied axon guidance by pioneer neurons, the cells that establish the nerves and axon tracts of the nervous system. I have stayed with developmental neurobiology ever since. I next went to the University of Chicago as a postdoctoral fellow (1982-1984), where Mick O'Shea had a lab exploring neuromodulation and synaptic plasticity. In 1984 I left Chicago for New Haven, where I joined Yale's Biology department (now called the MCDB department).

My research looks at synaptic development and plasticity in Drosophila embryos. The methods are basically molecular genetics, combined with neural imaging and electrophysiology. I'm interested in how neurons select their synaptic partners, and I study that at both the cellular and molecular level. Currently I'm looking at the molecular signals that a postsynaptic cell sends back to the developing presynaptic neuron, signals that govern synaptic targeting, refinement, and plasticity. Many of the key genes that govern development and nervous system function in people were first discovered in flies.

At Yale I help run the Interdepartmental Neuroscience Program, the university-wide doctoral program, where I am the coDirector with Charlie Greer.

My lab is located in the Yale Science Building on the main campus,. YSB 227.


Target dependent retrograde signaling mediates synaptic plasticity at the neuromuscular junction. (Links to an external site.)

Activity-Dependent Synaptic Refinement: New Insights from Drosophila.

In vivo Calcium Signaling during Synaptic Refinement at the Drosophila Neuromuscular Junction.

Cyclic nucleotide signaling is required during synaptic refinement at the Drosophila neuromuscular junction.

Links to an external site.

Education & Training

  • Postdoctoral Fellow
    The University of Chicago (1984)
  • PhD
    University of California, Berkeley (1982)
  • AB
    Earlham (1975)

Departments & Organizations