Clinical Focus

  • Psychiatry
  • Psychotherapy

Academic Appointments

  • Instructor, Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences

Professional Education

  • Board Certification: Psychiatry, American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology (2015)
  • Residency:Stanford University (2015) CA
  • Medical Education:Stanford University (2011) CA

Research & Scholarship

Current Research and Scholarly Interests

Function of microglia in health and disease


All Publications

  • Diverse Requirements for Microglial Survival, Specification, and Function Revealed by Defined-Medium Cultures NEURON Bohlen, C. J., Bennett, F. C., Tucker, A. F., Collins, H. Y., Mulinyawe, S. B., Barres, B. A. 2017; 94 (4): 759-?


    Microglia, the resident macrophages of the CNS, engage in various CNS-specific functions that are critical for development and health. To better study microglia and the properties that distinguish them from other tissue macrophage populations, we have optimized serum-free culture conditions to permit robust survival of highly ramified adult microglia under defined-medium conditions. We find that astrocyte-derived factors prevent microglial death ex vivo and that this activity results from three primary components, CSF-1/IL-34, TGF-?2, and cholesterol. Using microglial cultures that have never been exposed to serum, we demonstrate a dramatic and lasting change in phagocytic capacity after serum exposure. Finally, we find that mature microglia rapidly lose signature gene expression after isolation, and that this loss can be reversed by engrafting cells back into an intact CNS environment. These data indicate that the specialized gene expression profile of mature microglia requires continuous instructive signaling from the intact CNS.

    View details for DOI 10.1016/j.neuron.2017.04.043

    View details for Web of Science ID 000401415100014

    View details for PubMedID 28521131

  • Neurotoxic reactive astrocytes are induced by activated microglia. Nature Liddelow, S. A., Guttenplan, K. A., Clarke, L. E., Bennett, F. C., Bohlen, C. J., Schirmer, L., Bennett, M. L., Münch, A. E., Chung, W., Peterson, T. C., Wilton, D. K., Frouin, A., Napier, B. A., Panicker, N., Kumar, M., Buckwalter, M. S., Rowitch, D. H., Dawson, V. L., Dawson, T. M., Stevens, B., Barres, B. A. 2017; 541 (7638): 481-487


    Reactive astrocytes are strongly induced by central nervous system (CNS) injury and disease, but their role is poorly understood. Here we show that a subtype of reactive astrocytes, which we termed A1, is induced by classically activated neuroinflammatory microglia. We show that activated microglia induce A1 astrocytes by secreting Il-1?, TNF and C1q, and that these cytokines together are necessary and sufficient to induce A1 astrocytes. A1 astrocytes lose the ability to promote neuronal survival, outgrowth, synaptogenesis and phagocytosis, and induce the death of neurons and oligodendrocytes. Death of axotomized CNS neurons in vivo is prevented when the formation of A1 astrocytes is blocked. Finally, we show that A1 astrocytes are abundant in various human neurodegenerative diseases including Alzheimer's, Huntington's and Parkinson's disease, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis and multiple sclerosis. Taken together these findings help to explain why CNS neurons die after axotomy, strongly suggest that A1 astrocytes contribute to the death of neurons and oligodendrocytes in neurodegenerative disorders, and provide opportunities for the development of new treatments for these diseases.

    View details for DOI 10.1038/nature21029

    View details for PubMedID 28099414

    View details for PubMedCentralID PMC5404890

  • New tools for studying microglia in the mouse and human CNS PROCEEDINGS OF THE NATIONAL ACADEMY OF SCIENCES OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA Bennett, M. L., Bennett, F. C., Liddelow, S. A., Ajami, B., Zamanian, J. L., Fernhoff, N. B., Mulinyawe, S. B., Bohlen, C. J., Adil, A., Tucker, A., Weissman, I. L., Chang, E. F., Li, G., Grant, G. A., Gephart, M. G., Barres, B. A. 2016; 113 (12): E1738-E1746
  • New tools for studying microglia in the mouse and human CNS. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America Bennett, M. L., Bennett, F. C., Liddelow, S. A., Ajami, B., Zamanian, J. L., Fernhoff, N. B., Mulinyawe, S. B., Bohlen, C. J., Adil, A., Tucker, A., Weissman, I. L., Chang, E. F., Li, G., Grant, G. A., Hayden Gephart, M. G., Barres, B. A. 2016; 113 (12): E1738-46


    The specific function of microglia, the tissue resident macrophages of the brain and spinal cord, has been difficult to ascertain because of a lack of tools to distinguish microglia from other immune cells, thereby limiting specific immunostaining, purification, and manipulation. Because of their unique developmental origins and predicted functions, the distinction of microglia from other myeloid cells is critically important for understanding brain development and disease; better tools would greatly facilitate studies of microglia function in the developing, adult, and injured CNS. Here, we identify transmembrane protein 119 (Tmem119), a cell-surface protein of unknown function, as a highly expressed microglia-specific marker in both mouse and human. We developed monoclonal antibodies to its intracellular and extracellular domains that enable the immunostaining of microglia in histological sections in healthy and diseased brains, as well as isolation of pure nonactivated microglia by FACS. Using our antibodies, we provide, to our knowledge, the first RNAseq profiles of highly pure mouse microglia during development and after an immune challenge. We used these to demonstrate that mouse microglia mature by the second postnatal week and to predict novel microglial functions. Together, we anticipate these resources will be valuable for the future study and understanding of microglia in health and disease.

    View details for DOI 10.1073/pnas.1525528113

    View details for PubMedID 26884166

    View details for PubMedCentralID PMC4812770

  • Regional Brain Activation during Verbal Declarative Memory in Metastatic Breast Cancer CLINICAL CANCER RESEARCH Kesler, S. R., Bennett, F. C., Mahaffey, M. L., Spiegel, D. 2009; 15 (21): 6665-6673


    To determine the neurofunctional basis of verbal memory dysfunction in women with metastatic breast cancer. This objective was based on previous research suggesting memory and other cognitive deficits in this population. We attempted to determine if verbal memory impairments were related to the most commonly studied disease parameters including adjuvant chemotherapy and chronic stress-related disruption of limbic system structures.We used functional magnetic resonance imaging to test our hypothesis that women with breast cancer would show significantly lower brain activation during verbal declarative memory tasks compared with age and education-matched healthy female controls. We also assessed several stress-related variables including diurnal cortisol levels to test our hypothesis that women with breast cancer would show higher stress and this would contribute to brain activation deficits during memory tasks.Women with breast cancer had significantly lower prefrontal cortex activation during the memory encoding condition compared with controls. However, the breast cancer group showed significantly greater activation than controls during the recall condition in multiple, diffuse brain regions. There were no significant differences between the groups in stress-related variables. Women who were treated with cyclophosphamide, methotrexate, and 5-fluorouracil chemotherapy showed lower prefrontal cortex activation during memory encoding.These results suggest that women with metastatic breast cancer may be at risk for verbal memory impairments as a result of altered functional brain activation profiles. These findings may be associated with chemotherapy type and/or other aspects of the breast cancer disease process.

    View details for DOI 10.1158/1078-0432.CCR-09-1227

    View details for Web of Science ID 000271300200024

    View details for PubMedID 19843664

  • Myosin-IIA and ICAM-1 Regulate the Interchange between Two Distinct Modes of T Cell Migration JOURNAL OF IMMUNOLOGY Jacobelli, J., Bennett, F. C., Pandurangi, P., Tooley, A. J., Krummel, M. F. 2009; 182 (4): 2041-2050


    How T cells achieve rapid chemotactic motility under certain circumstances and efficient cell surface surveillance in others is not fully understood. We show that T lymphocytes are motile in two distinct modes: a fast "amoeboid-like" mode, which uses sequential discontinuous contacts to the substrate; and a slower mode using a single continuously translating adhesion, similar to mesenchymal motility. Myosin-IIA is necessary for fast amoeboid motility, and our data suggests that this occurs via cyclical rear-mediated compressions that eliminate existing adhesions while licensing subsequent ones at the front of the cell. Regulation of Myosin-IIA function in T cells is thus a key mechanism to regulate surface contact area and crawling velocity within different environments. This can provide T lymphocytes with motile and adhesive properties that are uniquely suited toward alternative requirements for immune surveillance and response.

    View details for DOI 10.4049/jimmunol.0803267

    View details for Web of Science ID 000263126300032

    View details for PubMedID 19201857

  • FOXO-regulated transcription restricts overgrowth of Tsc mutant organs JOURNAL OF CELL BIOLOGY Harvey, K. F., Mattila, J., Sofer, A., Bennett, F. C., Ramsey, M. R., Ellisen, L. W., Puig, O., Hariharan, I. K. 2008; 180 (4): 691-696


    FOXO is thought to function as a repressor of growth that is, in turn, inhibited by insulin signaling. However, inactivating mutations in Drosophila melanogaster FOXO result in viable flies of normal size, which raises a question over the involvement of FOXO in growth regulation. Previously, a growth-suppressive role for FOXO under conditions of increased target of rapamycin (TOR) pathway activity was described. Here, we further characterize this phenomenon. We show that tuberous sclerosis complex 1 mutations cause increased FOXO levels, resulting in elevated expression of FOXO-regulated genes, some of which are known to antagonize growth-promoting pathways. Analogous transcriptional changes are observed in mammalian cells, which implies that FOXO attenuates TOR-driven growth in diverse species.

    View details for DOI 10.1083/jcb.200710100

    View details for Web of Science ID 000253494000018

    View details for PubMedID 18299344

  • Fat cadherin modulates organ size in Drosophila via the Salvador/Warts/Hippo signaling pathway CURRENT BIOLOGY Bennett, F. C., Harvey, K. F. 2006; 16 (21): 2101-2110


    The atypical Fat cadherin has long been known to control cell proliferation and organ size in Drosophila, but the mechanism by which Fat controls these processes has remained elusive. A newly emerging signaling pathway that controls organ size during development is the Salvador/Warts/Hippo pathway.Here we demonstrate that Fat limits organ size by modulating activity of the Salvador/Warts/Hippo pathway. ft interacts genetically with positive and negative regulators of this pathway, and tissue lacking fat closely phenocopies tissue deficient for genes that normally promote Salvador/Warts/Hippo pathway activity. Cells lacking fat grow and proliferate more quickly than their wild-type counterparts and exhibit delayed cell-cycle exit as a result of elevated expression of Cyclin E. fat mutant cells display partial insensitivity to normal developmental apoptosis cues and express increased levels of the anti-apoptotic DIAP1 protein. Collectively, these defects lead to increased organ size and organism lethality in fat mutant animals. Fat modulates Salvador/Warts/Hippo pathway activity by promoting abundance and localization of Expanded protein at the apical membrane of epithelial tissues.Fat restricts organ size during Drosophila development via the Salvador/Warts/Hippo pathway. These studies aid our understanding of developmental organ size control and have implications for human hyperproliferative disorders, such as cancers.

    View details for DOI 10.1016/j.cub.2006.09.045

    View details for Web of Science ID 000241972300022

    View details for PubMedID 17045801

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