Robert Renden, Ph.D.

Associate Professor and Director, Cellular and Molecular Pharmacology and Physiology (CMPP) Graduate Program
Headshot of Robert Renden


My research interests lie in understanding the movement of synaptic vesicles within the presynaptic terminal. Lab research is currently focused on the energetic needs of presynaptic function, and how these energetic demands change with activity, age, and disease.

We apply patch-clamp electrophysiology techniques (voltage clamp, current clamp, and capacitance measurements) to evaluate synaptic function and better understand the kinetics for vesicle depletion, and refilling.

In concert with electrophysiology recordings, we use virally-mediated molecular perturbation of endogenous proteins to disrupt mitochondrial localization and function, specifically at the calyx of Held presynaptic terminal, a synapse specialized for high frequency and high fidelity neurotransmission, located in the auditory brainstem. We also use volumetric reconstruction of the terminal using fluorescent confocal microscopy to evaluate the distribution of proteins within in the presynaptic terminal volume.


  • Grinnell College (B.S., Chemistry) 1997
  • University of Utah (Ph.D., Neuroscience) 2003


Dr. Renden examined mechanisms underlying synaptic transmission at the Drosophila NMJ during his doctoral studies, then switched to a mammalian brain slice preparation, investigating synaptic vesicle recycling at a model glutamatergic synapse, the Calyx of Held, at the Vollum Institute in Portland, OR.

Dr. Renden was awarded Fellowships from the Human Frontiers Science Program, as well as the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation, to continue his studies using the calyx of Held at Heidelberg University, Germany.

He then was recruited to UCB, a pharmaceutical company in Belgium, to research drug targets for neurological disease.

In 2011, Dr. Renden relocated to Reno and now is an Associate Professor in the Physiology and Cell Biology Department, at UNR School of Medicine.