New York Medical College

Frances Hannan, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor of Cell Biology and Anatomy

Frances Hannan, PhD








Cell Biology & Anatomy Department
Basic Sciences Building, Rm 204
15 Dana Rd.
Valhalla, NY 10595

(T) 914-594-4111
(F) 914-594-4653

Personal Profile:

I was born and educated in Australia, and pursued Postdoctoral studies at a number of institutions including Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, and Cambridge University in England, prior to taking a faculty position here at NYMC.

Professional Interests:

My lab is interested in the molecular mechanisms underlying complex processes such as learning & memory and auditory function. We utilize molecular biology, genetics, and imaging to study nervous system function in the fruit fly Drosophila melanogaster.

The main focus of the lab is a Drosophila model for Neurofibromatosis Type I (NFI). This common human genetic disorder causes peripheral nervous system tumors and learning disabilities. We have expressed the human NF1 protein in Nf1-/- mutant flies to determine the domains of NF1 that control Ras versus cAMP signalling pathways. We assay olfactory learning and memory in adult flies and larvae using electric shock paired with odors. We also assay spatial learning in flies using a “flight simulator” to train flies to respond to visual cues paired with laser punishment. We are screening for drugs that rescue learning defects in Nf1-/- mutant flies and larvae. In addition we perform microarray analysis and real-time PCR of gene expression profiles in Nf1-/- mutants. We are also looking for learning defects in flies expressing mutant human Huntingtin proteins, to model cognitive deficits of Huntington’s Disease and provide a system to screen for drugs and genetic modifiers. We have begun looking at the effects of traumatic brain injury on survival and behavior of flies, and assessing the protective effect of drugs affecting the polyol pathway.

We study hearing in Drosophila using an electrophysiological assay to detect a flies response to the Drosophila courtship song. We have observed hearing defects in flies with mutations in genes that are related to several human/mouse hereditary hearing loss genes including NF2, ESPN, TMHS and DIAPH. We are using RNAi to specifically knockout these genes in the flies' auditory organ. We also use 2-photon fluorescence imaging to identify structural defects in these flies, since these proteins affect actin polymerization and microtubule stability. In addition we perform real time in vivo imaging of the auditory organ to observe Ca2+ transients and movement of GFP labeled proteins. Finally, we are adapting the flight simulator apparatus to look for balance defects in flies with hearing defects that are identified in our screen.

Education Profile:

Post Graduate Studies:   Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory (NY, USA), Cambridge University (UK), SUNY Buffalo (NY, USA).

Graduate Degree:   Ph.D. (Genetics)

Graduate Degree Institution:   Melbourne University (Australia)

Undergraduate Institution:   Melbourne University (Australia)

Selected Bibliography:

Schoen CJ, Emery SB, Thorne MC, Ammana HR, Sliwerska E, Arnett J, Hortsch M, Hannan F, Burmeister M, Lesperance MM (2010). Increased activity of Diaphanous homolog 3 (DIAPH3)/diaphanous causes hearing defects in humans with auditory neuropathy and in Drosophila. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 107, 13396-13401.

Cosetti, M, Culang, D, Kotla, S, O'Brien, P, Eberl, D, Hannan, F (2008). Unique transgenic animal model for hereditary hearing loss. Annals Otol Rhinol Laryngol 117, 827-833.

Ho, IS*, Hannan, F*, Guo, H-F, Hakker, I, Zhong, Y (2007). Distinct functional domains of NF1 regulate immediate versus long-term memory formation. J Neurosci, 27, 6852-6857.

Hannan, F*, Ho, I*, Tong, J*, Zhu, Y, Nurnberg, P & Zhong, Y (2006). Effect of Neurofibromatosis Type I mutations on a novel pathway for Adenylyl Cyclase activation requiring Neurofibromin and Ras. Hum Mol Genet, 15, 1087-1098.

Ge, X, Hannan, F, Xie, Z, Feng, C, Tully, T, Xie, Z, & Zhong, Y (2004). Notch signaling in Drosophila long-term memory formation. Proc Natl Acad Sci, 101, 10172-10176.