Faculty Profile

Neuroscience Faculty

Ruth Fabian-Fine, M.Sc., Ph.D.

Assistant Professor Biology and Neuroscience

M.Sc., Zoology/Neurobiology, Johann Wolfgang Goethe-University Frankfurt
Ph.D., Zoology/Neurobiology, Johann Wolfgang Goethe-University Frankfurt

Areas of Expertise:

Sensory Systems
Electron Microscopy
Three Dimensional Reconstructions

Courses I Teach:

Developmental Biology  Lecture
Developmental Biology Lab
Cellular/Molecular Neuroscience Lecture
Cellular/Molecular Neuroscience Lab
Senior Seminar – The effects of venoms and toxins on the human body
Science Communication


Scientific Imaging Suite 

Current research:

Over the last decades the phenomenon of co-transmission of two or more neurotransmitters from individual neurons has been firmly established. Our knowledge regarding mechanisms and purpose of co-release, however is only in its infancy. There is strong evidence, that in some cases co-transmission pattern of counteracting transmitters is activity dependent and that this plastic response pattern provides a crucially important protective mechanism against the consequences of overexcitation and excitotoxicity. To contribute to a better understanding of the underlying mechanisms of co-transmission we address the following questions in an invertebrate model system, the Central American wandering spider Cupiennius salei: (a) Which transmitters a co-released? (2) Which neuron populations co-release transmitters? (3) Does activity alter the neurochemical composition within these neurons? (4) Does activation alter electrophysiological response patterns and synaptic connectivity in central and/or peripheral pathways? In recent studies we have demonstrated that co-transmission is commonly observed in peripheral and central spider neurons. Currently we investigate the different combinations of transmitters that are co-released from individual neurons and test if the pattern of transmitter expression is activity dependent. Our hypothesis is that co-releasing neurons form a plastic network. We propose that neurons that constitute this plastic network regulate their transmitter content in an activity dependent manner and exert modulatory input on the main excitatory and inhibitory (static) pathways.

Vermont Genetics Network Pilot Award, 2017/18 
Vermont Genetics Network Pilot Award, 2016/17 
George I. Alden Trust, awarded to Saint Michael's College, 2016
Saint Michael’s College Summer Research Award, 2016
Vermont Genetics Network Small Project Award, 2015
Killiam Postdoctoral Fellowship, Dalhousie University, Halifax, Canada, 2001
Deutscher Akademischer Austauschdienst (German Academic Exchange Service), Stipend for collaborative work abroad, 1997
German Neuroscience Society Travel Award, 1996

Dr. Ruth Fabian-Fine spoke with the Defender, the Saint Michael's College newspaper, on examining sensory overload, or over stimulation of sensory systems and how it affects the central nervous system and the behavior of Central American Hunting Spiders. 

Click here to watch the interview: Examining the sensory systems in spiders

Read the profile of Dr. Fabian-Fine in the Winter 2016 edition of the Saint Michael's College Magazine here


Peer-reviewed articles submitted:

1. Ruth Fabian-Fine, Carly Anderson, Molly Roush, Jessica A.G. Johnson, Honxia Liu, Andrew S.    French and Paivi Torkkeli. Submission to Cell  Tissue Res. Distribution of Cholinergic Neurons and their Co-localization with FMRFamide in Central and Peripheral Neurons of the Spider Cupiennius salei. Ruth Fabian-Fine, Carly Anderson, Molly Roush, Jessica A.G. Johnson, Honxia Liu, Andrew S. French and Paivi Torkkeli. Submitted to Cell Tissue Res.

Peer-reviewed articles published:

2. Fabian-Fine R, Meisner S, Torkkeli PH, Meinertzhagen IA. Co-localization of Gamma-Aminobutyric Acid and Glutamate in Neurons of the Spider Central Nervous System.
Fabian-Fine R, Meisner S, Torkkeli PH, Meinertzhagen IA. Cell Tissue Res. 2015 Dec;362(3):461-79

3. Grange J, Boyer V, Fabian-Fine R, Fredj NB, Sadoul R, Goldberg Y. Somatodendritic localization and mRNA association of the splicing regulatory protein Sam68 in the hippocampus and cortex. J Neurosci Res. 2004 Mar 1;75(5):654-66.

4. Ruiz A, Walker MC, Fabian-Fine R, Kullmann DM. Endogenous zinc inhibits GABA(A) receptors in a hippocampal pathway. J Neurophysiol. 2004 Feb;91(2):1091-6. 

5. Chandler KE, Princivalle AP, Fabian-Fine R, Bowery NG, Kullmann DM, Walker MC.
Plasticity of GABA(B) receptor-mediated heterosynaptic interactions at mossy fibers after status epilepticus. J Neurosci. 2003 Dec 10;23(36):11382-91.

6. Fabian-Fine R, Verstreken P, Hiesinger PR, Horne JA, Kostyleva R, Zhou Y, Bellen HJ, Meinertzhagen IA. Endophilin promotes a late step in endocytosis at glial invaginations in Drosophila photoreceptor terminals. J Neurosci. 2003 Nov 19;23(33):10732-44.

7. Ruiz A, Fabian-Fine R, Scott R, Walker MC, Rusakov DA, Kullmann DM. GABAA receptors at hippocampal mossy fibers. Neuron. 2003 Sep 11;39(6):961-73.

8. Pennetta G, Hiesinger PR, Fabian-Fine R, Meinertzhagen IA, Bellen HJ. Drosophila VAP-33A directs bouton formation at neuromuscular junctions in a dosage-dependent manner. Neuron. 2002 Jul 18;35(2):291-306.
 9. Fabian-Fine R, Seyfarth E-A, Meinertzhagen IA.  (2002) Peripheral synaptic contacts as sensory neurons in arachnids and crustaceans: Morphological and immunocytochemical characteristics. Microscopy Research and Technique 58:283-298.  10. Fabian-Fine R, Skehel P, Errington ML, Davies HA, Sher E, Stewart MG, Fine A (2001) Ultrastructural distribution of the nicotinic acetylcholine receptor subunit 7 in rat hippocampus. J Neurosci 21: 7993-8003.  11. Reid CA, Fabian-Fine R, Fine A (2001) Postsynaptic calcium transients evoked by activation of individual hippocampal mossy fiber synapses.  J Neurosci 21: 2206-2214.

12. Fabian-Fine R, Volknandt W, Fine A, Stewart MG (2000) Age-dependent pre- and postsynaptic distribution of AMPA receptors at synapses in CA3 stratum radiatum of hippocampal slice cultures compared with intact brain.  Eur J Neurosci 12: 3687-700.  13. Fabian-Fine R, Meinertzhagen IA, Seyfarth E-A (2000) The organization of efferent peripheral synapses at mechanosensory neurons in spiders.  J Comp Neurol 420: 195-210.  14. Skehel PA, Fabian-Fine R, Kandel ER (2000) Mouse VAP33 is Associated with the Endoplasmic Reticulum and Microtubules.  Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 97: 1101-1106.  15. Fabian-Fine R, Höger U, Seyfarth E-A, Meinertzhagen IA (1999) Peripheral synapses at identified mechanosensory neurons in spiders: three-dimensional reconstruction and GABA immunocytochemistry.  J Neurosci 19: 298-310.  16. Fabian-Fine R, Volknandt W, Seyfarth E-A (1999) Peripheral synapses at identifiable mechanosensory neurons in the spider Cupiennius salei: synapsin-like immunoreactivity.  Cell Tissue Res 295: 13-19.  17. Fabian R, Seyfarth E-A (1997).  Acetylcholine and histamine are transmitter candidates in identifiable mechanosensitive neurons of the spider Cupiennius salei: an immunocytochemical study.  Cell Tissue Res 287: 413-423. 

Learn What Matters