Barbara M. Bayer


Barbara Bayer, PhD - Professor & Chair

PhD (Pharmacology) 1977
Ohio State University
New Research Building, EP04B
Phone: 202.687.1616
Fax: 202.687.0617

Dr. Bayer is the Professor and Chair of the Department of Neuroscience and Senior Associate Dean of Biomedical Graduate Education. Dr Bayer’s area of expertise includes the control of immune function by the central nervous system. Dr Bayer has been involved in graduate education for over 30 years and she has mentored both IPN and Pharmacology PhD students. She was the PI on a training grant for many years and she continues to be involved in graduate student training by sitting on thesis committees and also in her capacity as Senior Associate Dean of Biomedical Sciences at Georgetown University. She is a consultant and advisor to several faculty who are engaged in research involving the effects of various treatments or stress on the immune system and its derivatives. Graduate education both in the laboratory and in alternative paths continues to be her passion.

Her research was focused on cellular and molecular mechanisms by which the brain communicates with circulating cells of the immune system.  Earlier research in her laboratory demonstrated that exposure to opioid drugs and related compounds resulted in rapid changes in the pattern of expression of selective genes and proteins in blood lymphocytes.  These changes were found to result in an impairment of the activity of immune cells often leading to increased vulnerability to diseases.  Similar effects on immune cells were observed following exposure to certain types of stress. 

Other studies focused on identifying specific cellular markers in circulating immune cells which predict the overall vulnerability of the immune system to a repeat exposure to stress and centrally acting drugs.  These studies utilized a variety of multidisciplinary approaches including molecular and cellular based assays, genomics, pharmacological strategies, neurological imaging and quantitative histological methods.  The underlying hypothesis of this research was that changes in circulating blood cells are sensitive and specific to alterations in neurochemistry and may provide a ‘sentinel’ readout to predict early neuropathic states accompanying neurodegenerative diseases, exposure to drugs and/or stress.   The ultimate goal of this research was to determine whether these candidate readouts will be useful as a rapid and noninvasive approach for the early detection of CNS diseases, the progression of the disease and to evaluate the effectiveness of new potential therapies.

Bayer Extols the Virtues of “Showing Up and Doing Your Job”

“From her formative years as a self-described ‘Army brat’ and a first-generation college graduate, Bayer has focused on showing up and doing her job. Now serving as professor and chair of the department of neuroscience, Bayer spoke about how showing up and doing her job opened doors in her career at this year’s Georgetown University Spring Faculty Convocation.”

Barbara Bayer Awarded GUMC’s Service Award

“Faculty, students, staff and families gathered to celebrate outstanding achievements in research, teaching and service at Georgetown University Medical Center during the 10th Annual GUMC Fall Convocation November 16. Awards were presented to faculty and students in the School of Medicine, School of Nursing & Health Studies and the Biomedical Graduate Education program.”