Fernando Gomez-Pinilla, Ph.D.

Professor, Integrative Biology and Physiology, Neurosurgery, Surgery
Member, Brain Research Institute, Molecular, Cellular & Integrative Physiology GPB Home Area, Neuroscience GPB Home Area

Contact Information:

Email Address:


Lab Number:

(310) 825-1788

Office Phone Number:


Work Address:

Los Angeles, CA 90095
Los Angeles, CA 90095

Detailed Biography:

Mechanisms of Neural Repair Role of Trophic Factors on Activity-dependent Plasticity We are interested on the mechanisms by which environmental factors affect neuronal health. We have found that trophic factors endogenous to the brain and spinal cord can be induced by the practice of select behaviors. We have recently reported that physical activity, learning, and nutritional factors control neurotrophins in the brain. These findings opened the exciting possibility that regulation of trophic factors by behavior can be a pivotal mechanism by which specific experiences can impact the structure and function of the CNS. It may account for the improvement of CNS function after trauma provided by rehabilitative therapies. On the contrary, it may explain the decay in function in aging or degenerative diseases following a lack of stimulation. These two avenues provide direction for my research program: 1) How trophic factors induced by activity can help functional recovery following brain and spinal cord trauma. We are using several exercise models to boost the production of trophic factors in the brain and spinal cord. Our goal is to provide critical information to guide the design of behavioral therapies for the reduction of the severity of insult or disease, and to increase CNS function. 2) We are evaluating the effects of lifestyle on trophic factor production, with resulting effects on circuit remodeling, synaptic function, and cognition. We believe that changes in trophic factor as a result of select experiences can affect neuronal health with profound consequences for cognitive function.


Wu Aiguo, Ying Zhe, Gomez-Pinilla Fernando   Dietary Strategy to Repair Plasma Membrane After Brain Trauma: Implications for Plasticity and Cognition Neurorehabilitation and neural repair, 2013; .
Baruch Kuti, Ron-Harel Noga, Gal Hilah, Deczkowska Aleksandra, Shifrut Eric, Ndifon Wilfred, Mirlas-Neisberg Nataly, Cardon Michal, Vaknin Ilan, Cahalon Liora, Berkutzki Tamara, Mattson Mark P, Gomez-Pinilla Fernando, Friedman Nir, Schwartz Michal   CNS-specific immunity at the choroid plexus shifts toward destructive Th2 inflammation in brain aging Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 2013; 110(6): 2264-9.
Gomez-Pinilla Fernando, Hillman Charles   The influence of exercise on cognitive abilities Comprehensive Physiology, 2013; 3(1): 403-28.
Tyagi Ethika, Agrawal Rahul, Zhuang Yumei, Abad Catalina, Waschek James A, Gomez-Pinilla Fernando   Vulnerability imposed by diet and brain trauma for anxiety-like phenotype: implications for post-traumatic stress disorders PloS one, 2013; 8(3): e57945.
Ying Zhe, Covalin Alejandro, Judy Jack, Gomez-Pinilla Fernando   Hypothalamic stimulation enhances hippocampal BDNF plasticity in proportion to metabolic rate Brain stimulation, 2012; 5(4): 642-6.
Holly Langston T, Blaskiewicz Donald, Wu Aiguo, Feng Cameron, Ying Zhe, Gomez-Pinilla Fernando   Dietary therapy to promote neuroprotection in chronic spinal cord injury Journal of neurosurgery. Spine, 2012; 17(2): 134-40.
Agrawal Rahul, Gomez-Pinilla Fernando   'Metabolic syndrome' in the brain: deficiency in omega-3 fatty acid exacerbates dysfunctions in insulin receptor signalling and cognition The Journal of physiology, 2012; 590(Pt 10): 2485-99.
Gomez-Pinilla Fernando, Ying Zhe, Zhuang Yumei   Brain and spinal cord interaction: protective effects of exercise prior to spinal cord injury PloS one, 2012; 7(2): e32298.
Ying Zhe, Feng Cameron, Agrawal Rahul, Zhuang Yumei, Gomez-Pinilla Fernando   Dietary omega-3 deficiency from gestation increases spinal cord vulnerability to traumatic brain injury-induced damage PloS one, 2012; 7(12): e52998.
Joseph M Selvan, Ying Zhe, Zhuang Yumei, Zhong Hui, Wu Aiguo, Bhatia Harsharan S, Cruz Rusvelda, Tillakaratne Niranjala J K, Roy Roland R, Edgerton V Reggie, Gomez-Pinilla Fernando   Effects of diet and/or exercise in enhancing spinal cord sensorimotor learning PloS one, 2012; 7(7): e41288.
Sharma Sandeep, Zhuang Yumei, Gomez-Pinilla Fernando   High-fat diet transition reduces brain DHA levels associated with altered brain plasticity and behaviour Scientific reports, 2012; 2(2): 431.
Gomez-Pinilla Fernando, Nguyen Trang T J   Natural mood foods: the actions of polyphenols against psychiatric and cognitive disorders Nutritional neuroscience, 2012; 15(3): 127-33.
Wu Aiguo, Ying Zhe, Gomez-Pinilla Fernando   The salutary effects of DHA dietary supplementation on cognition, neuroplasticity, and membrane homeostasis after brain trauma Journal of neurotrauma, 2011; 28(10): 2113-22.
Gomez-Pinilla Fernando   The combined effects of exercise and foods in preventing neurological and cognitive disorders Preventive medicine, 2011; 52 Suppl 1(6 Suppl 1): S75-80.
Gomez-Pinilla Fernando, Gomez Alexis G   The influence of dietary factors in central nervous system plasticity and injury recovery PM & R : the journal of injury, function, and rehabilitation, 2011; 3(6 Suppl 1): S111-6.
Wu Aiguo, Ying Zhe, Schubert David, Gomez-Pinilla Fernando   Brain and spinal cord interaction: a dietary curcumin derivative counteracts locomotor and cognitive deficits after brain trauma Neurorehabilitation and neural repair, 2011; 25(4): 332-42.
Gomez-Pinilla Fernando   Collaborative effects of diet and exercise on cognitive enhancement Nutrition and health, 2011; 20(3-4): 165-9.
Bhatia Harsharan Singh, Agrawal Rahul, Sharma Sandeep, Huo Yi-Xin, Ying Zhe, Gomez-Pinilla Fernando   Omega-3 fatty acid deficiency during brain maturation reduces neuronal and behavioral plasticity in adulthood PloS one, 2011; 6(12): e28451.
Gomez-Pinilla Fernando, Ying Zhe, Agoncillo Teodora, Frostig Ron   The influence of naturalistic experience on plasticity markers in somatosensory cortex and hippocampus: effects of whisker use Brain research, 2011; 1388(6 Suppl 1): 39-47.
Sharma Sandeep, Ying Zhe, Gomez-Pinilla Fernando   A pyrazole curcumin derivative restores membrane homeostasis disrupted after brain trauma Experimental neurology, 2010; 226(1): 191-9.
Chytrova Gabriela, Ying Zhe, Gomez-Pinilla Fernando   Exercise contributes to the effects of DHA dietary supplementation by acting on membrane-related synaptic systems Brain research, 2010; 1341(1): 32-40.
Aiguo Wu Fernando, Zhe Ying Fernando, Gomez-Pinilla Fernando   Vitamin E protects against oxidative damage and learning disability after mild traumatic brain injury in rats Neurorehabilitation and neural repair, 2010; 24(3): 290-8.
Szabo Zsofia, Ying Zhe, Radak Zsolt, Gomez-Pinilla Fernando   Voluntary exercise may engage proteasome function to benefit the brain after trauma Brain research, 2010; 1341(1): 25-31.
Griesbach Grace Sophia, Hovda David Allen, Gomez-Pinilla Fernando   Exercise-induced improvement in cognitive performance after traumatic brain injury in rats is dependent on BDNF activation Brain research, 2009; 1288(3): 105-15.
Griesbach Grace Sophia, Sutton Richard L, Hovda David A, Ying Zhe, Gomez-Pinilla Fernando   Controlled contusion injury alters molecular systems associated with cognitive performance Journal of neuroscience research, 2009; 87(3): 795-805.
Hu Shuxin, Ying Zhe, Gomez-Pinilla Fernando, Frautschy Sally Ann   Exercise can increase small heat shock proteins (sHSP) and pre- and post-synaptic proteins in the hippocampus Brain research, 2009; 1249(3): 191-201.
Gomez-Pinilla Fernando, Vaynman Shoshanna, Ying Zhe   Brain-derived neurotrophic factor functions as a metabotrophin to mediate the effects of exercise on cognition The European journal of neuroscience, 2008; 28(11): 2278-87.
Haastert Kirsten, Ying Zhe, Grothe Claudia, Gómez-Pinilla Fernando   The effects of FGF-2 gene therapy combined with voluntary exercise on axonal regeneration across peripheral nerve gaps Neuroscience letters, 2008; 443(3): 179-83.
Gomez-Pinilla Fernando, Kostenkova Kristina   The influence of diet and physical activity on brain repair and neurosurgical outcome Surgical neurology, 2008; 70(4): 333-5; discussion 335-6.
Gómez-Pinilla Fernando   Brain foods: the effects of nutrients on brain function Nature reviews. Neuroscience, 2008; 9(7): 568-78.
Chytrova Gabriela, Ying Zhe, Gomez-Pinilla Fernando   Exercise normalizes levels of MAG and Nogo-A growth inhibitors after brain trauma The European journal of neuroscience, 2008; 27(1): 1-11.
Gomez-Pinilla Fernando   The influences of diet and exercise on mental health through hormesis Ageing research reviews, 2008; 7(1): 49-62.
Ying Z, Roy RR, Edgerton VR, Gomez-Pinilla F.   Exercise restores levels of neurotrophins and synaptic plasticity following spinal cord injury, Experimental Neurology , 2005; 193(2): 411-419.
Gomez-Pinilla F, Ying Z, Roy RR, Hodgson J, Edgerton VR.   Afferent input modulates neurotrophins and synaptic plasticity in the spinal cord, J Neurophysiol, 2004; 92(6): 3423-32.
Vaynman, S Ying, Z Gomez-Pinilla, F   Hippocampal BDNF mediates the efficacy of exercise on synaptic plasticity and cognition The European journal of neuroscience. , 2004; 20(10): 2580-90.
Molteni R, Zheng JQ, Ying Z, Gomez-Pinilla F, Twiss JL   Voluntary exercise increases axonal regeneration from sensory neurons, Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A, 2004; 101(22): 8473-8.
Vaynman S, Ying Z, Gomez-Pinilla F.   Exercise induces BDNF and synapsin I to specific hippocampal subfields, J Neurosci Res, 2004; 76(3): 356-62.
Griesbach, GS Hovda, DA Molteni, R Wu, A Gomez-Pinilla, F   Voluntary exercise following traumatic brain injury: brain-derived neurotrophic factor upregulation and recovery of function Neuroscience. , 2004; 125(1): 129-39.
Gomez-Pinilla F, Ying Z, Roy RR, Molteni R, Edgerton VR.   Voluntary exercise induces a BDNF-mediated mechanism that promotes neuroplasticity, J Neurophysiol, 2002; 88(5): 2187-95.
Molteni, R., Barnard, J.R., Ying, Z., Roberts, C.K., and Gomez-Pinilla, F.   A high-fat, refined-sugar diet reduces BDNF, neuronal plasticity, and cognitive function, Neuroscience, 2002; 112(4) : 803-814.
Molteni, Ying, Z., and Gomez-Pinilla, F.   Differential expression of plasticity-related genes in the rat hippocampus after voluntary wheel running, Eur. J. Neurosci, 2002; 16 (6): 1107-1124.
Gomez-Pinilla, F., Ying, Z., Roy, R.R., Molteni, R., and Edgerton, R.   Voluntary exercise induces a BDNF-mediated mechanism that promotes neuroplasticity, J. Neurosphysiol , 2002; 88 (5): 2196-2206.
Gomez-Pinilla, F., Ying, J. P. Opazo L., Roy, R., and Edgerton, R.,   Exercise up-regulates BDNF mRNA and protein in the spinal cord and skeletal muscle, Eur. J. Neurosci, 2001; 13: 1078-1084.
Kesslak, JP So, V Choi, J Cotman, CW Gomez-Pinilla, F   Learning upregulates brain-derived neurotrophic factor messenger ribonucleic acid: a mechanism to facilitate encoding and circuit maintenance? Behavioral neuroscience. , 1998; 112(4): 1012-9.
Neeper, S.A., Gomez-Pinilla, F., Choi, J. and Cotman, C.W   Exercise and brain neurotrophins, Nature, 1995; 373: 109.

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