Kelly Dougherty

Assistant Professor of Biology
(901) 843-3520


Dr. Dougherty investigates the biophysical underpinnings of epilepsy. She uses a combination of molecular biology, biochemistry, electrophysiology, and computer modeling to study the relationship between voltage-gated ion channels and neuronal excitability.  Currently, her work is focused on understanding the mechanism of action for several common antiepileptic drugs (AEDs) and anesthetics.   People are often surprised to learn that most AEDs and anesthetics were developed empirically, with very little understanding of the underlying mechanisms.  It is therefore less surprising, that primary, secondary, and even tertiary drug targets often emerge years after the drug has entered the marketplace. Understanding these alternative AED mechanisms is especially important, given that the seizure activity of nearly one third of epileptics cannot be controlled with existing AEDs. Dr. Dougherty enjoys working with students, and is excited about incorporating them into her research program. 


Dougherty KA, Nicholson DA, Diaz L, Buss EW, Neuman KM, Chetkovich DM, and Johnston D. (2013). Differential expression of HCN subunits alters voltage-dependent gating of h-channels in CA1 pyramidal neurons from the dorsal and ventral hippocampus. J Neurophysiol. Apr;109(7):1940-53.

Dougherty KA, Islam T, Johnston D. (2012) Intrinsic excitability of CA1 pyramidal neurones from the rat dorsal and ventral hippocampus. J Physiol, 590:5707-22. Narayanan R, Dougherty K, and Johnston D. (2010) Calcium store depletion induces persistent perisomatic increases in the functional density of h-channels in hippocampal pyramidal neurons. Neuron. 68:1-15.

Amarillo Y, De Santiago-Castillo JA, Dougherty K, Kwon E, Covarrubias ML, and Rudy B. (2008) Ternary Kv4.2 channels mimic voltage-dependent inactivation kinetics of A-type K+ channels in cerebellar granule neurons. J Physiol. Apr 15;586(8):2093-106.

Dougherty K, De Santiago-Castillo JA, and Covarrubias ML. (2008). Gating charge immobilization in Kv4.2 channels: the basis of closed-state inactivation. J Gen Physiol. Mar;131(3):257-73.

Dougherty K and Covarrubias ML. (2006). A dipeptidyl aminopeptidase-like protein remodels gating charge dynamics in Kv4.2 channels. J Gen Physiol, 128(6):745-53.


Ph.D. Cell and Developmental Biology, Thomas Jefferson University, 2009

B.S. Biology, concentration in Microbiology, West Chester University, 2003