Ellen Hess, PhD


Emory University School of Medicine

Office: Woodruff Memorial Building, Room 6303

Phone: 404-727-4911; Lab Number: 404-712-8490

Fax: 404-712-8576

Email: ellen.hess@emory.edu

Additional Contact Information

Mailing Address:

Emory University School of Medicine

Woodruff Memorial Building, Room 6303
101 Woodruff Circle

Atlanta, Georgia 30322-3090

Additional Websites


  • PhD, Neuroscience, University of California, San Diego
  • B.A., Psychobiology, Welleslley College, Wellesley, MA


I received a B.A. in Psychobiology from Wellesley College and a Ph.D. in Neuroscience from U.C.S.D with a focus on behavioral pharmacology. I stayed in San Diego for my postdoc at The Scripps Research Institute, where I switched gears to learn molecular biology. My research is a natural extension of my training in both behavioral pharmacology and molecular biology, focusing on the generation and analysis of mouse models of movement disorders using both genetic and pharmacological approaches. Before joining the faculty at Emory University in 2008, I held academic appointments at Johns Hopkins University and Pennsylvania State University College of Medicine. I am currently a Professor in the Departments of Pharmacology and Neurology. 


Research Area:
Pathophysiology of movement disorders
Research Interests:
Our research focuses on the genetic and neuropharmacologic underpinnings of complex behavioral disorders. We work on several different projects under this broad theme, including dystonia, Lesch-Nyhan disease, and channelopathies (episodic neurological disorders). The goal is to better understand and treat these neurological disorders by using a true bench to bedside approach.

Our group consists of basic science and clinical research components. We use a multi-disciplinary approach to determine the contribution of the basal ganglia and cerebellum to different disorders. We manipulate specific subpopulations of neurons using genetically engineered mice, viral vectors or drug challenges by targeting ion channels, receptors or neurotransmitters to cause or suppress dysfunction. We assess the effects of these manipulations on neuronal function and behavior to pinpoint the source of the dysfunctional signal. Our experiments have resulted in the development and characterization of several mouse models of human disease in our lab and in collaboration with others. This strategy provides a better understanding of the mechanisms underlying neurological dysfunction as well as the development of novel treatments.

Our clinical work is aimed primarily at translational research. This includes more precise characterizations of clinical phenotypes, exploring genotype-phenotype relationships, neuroimaging of the brain, biorepositories for exploring biomarkers of disease, and clinical trials of promising new treatments.