Bearer received the MD-PhD combined degree from University of California, San Francisco in 1983, with the PhD in Experimental Pathology. Following the MD-PhD, she completed a post-doctoral fellowship in Geneva, Switzerland, with Lelio Orci in Morphologie and Embryologie at the Centre Medicale Universitaire, and then completed residency in Anatomic Pathology at UCSF. Following residency, she stayed at UCSF in a combined clinical-research fellowship for four more years in Pathology and Medical Genetics and in Biochemistry and Biophysics in the lab of Bruce M. Alberts.

Personal Statement

Bearer's interest in the brain, the mind, and their disorders propelled her into biomedical sciences. She uses many different imaging technologies, coupled with molecular genetics and computational modeling, to study circuitry dynamics in health and disease states.

Bearer’s research began with studies at the finest detail of membrane dynamics involved in synaptic transmitter release. She developed imaging labels for anionic lipids and made the earliest observations of membrane lipid rafts and the protein biochemistry of actin modulators. During this development, she identified proteins that drive filament formation and mapped one, kaptin/2E4, on human chromosome 19. These discoveries showed that mutations in the promoter region lead to inherited deafness.

Using herpes virus as a tool and the squid giant axon as a model, her lab then discovered that amyloid precursor protein, the major component in Alzheimer’s plaques, recruited cytoskeletal motors to cargo for transport. In 2004, as a Moore Distinguished Scholar at California Technical Institute, she began developing magnetic resonance imaging with Russ Jacobs, Jack Roberts, and Scott Fraser for live imaging of circuitry in mouse models of human neurological and psychiatric disorders.

Areas of Specialty

Specialization #1 Brain Circuitry
Bearer’s studies of the brain zoom down to the molecular detail of the squid, platelets, and cell culture. They also explore whole-brain imaging by magnetic resonance of circuitry dynamics and changes over time in living mouse models of human mental disorders, neurological disorders, and neurodegenerative diseases. Bearer collaborates with Russ Jacobs at the California Institute of Technology for high field MR imaging of living mouse brains.

Specialization #2 Developing Mind
An emerging interest concerns the developing mind and how perinatal events may spark long-term consequences by impacting genetic regulation and functional brain connectivity. Bearer collaborates with Scott Fraser at USC for imaging of the developing brain in various animal models.

Specialization #3 Brain tumor and Brain Cancer Modeling
In addition, Bearer has a long-standing collaboration with Prof. Vittorio Cristini and his team of chemical engineers and computational biologists to develop methods for modeling biological process using the first principles of physics. Utilizing archival pathological material primarily of brain tumors, Bearer and Cristini have validated a series of mathematical models describing tumor behavior and predicting treatment outcomes from standard diagnostic tests. Bearer accepts consults.

Specialization #4 Music and Mind. (Image of Nadia Boulanger)
Bearer's work on the mind-brain continuum focuses on theoretical and philosophical reflections, original music compositions, and public lectures. See the Music and Mind tab in this site for more information and to listen to a few of her works.

Specialization #5 Other activities
Bearer holds secondary appointments in Neurosurgery and in the UNM Music Department. She teaches medical students and graduate courses and serves on steering and curriculum committees.


Board Certified, Anatomic Pathology
Medical licenses: New Mexico and California

Achievements & Awards

Brown University, (Honorary) Master of Arts Degree ad Eundem, 1998

Frederik Bang Summer Research Fellowship, Marine Biological Laboratory, Woods Hole, MA 1988, 1989, 1999

Award for Humanism in the Practice of Medicine, Jaffe Foundation, 1999

Public Service Award, Foundation for Children and the Aged, Kansas City, Kansas, 2002

Honorary Diploma, Oglala Sioux College, Pine Ridge Reservation, South Dakota, 2002

Dean's Awards for Excellence in Medical Student Teaching, Brown Medical School, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2007, 2008.

Distinguished Neuroscience Lectureship Award, Rosenstiel

BioMedical Center, Department of Neuroscience, and the NIEHS Marine Biology Center, University of Miami Medical School, 2003

Honor Wall, Smithsonian Museum of the American Indian, 2003

Munroe Memorial Lectureship, California Institute of Technology, 2004

Dart Scholar of Learning and Memory, Marine Biological Laboratory, 2005

Moore Distinguished Scholar, Caltech Brain Imaging Center, California Institute of Technology, 2005

Chemical Heritage Foundation: Chemist-Composer of the Year, 2006

Distinguished Lectureship in Pathology, University of Iowa School of Medicine, 2008

Top Pathologists, Consumer's Research Council of America, for each year 2007-2017

Harvey Family Professorship in Pathology (endowment) 2009-present

Fellow, American Association for the Advancement of Science 2012, “for distinguished contributions in pathologic basis of disease, cargo motor attachments in axonal transport, actin dynamics, and neuropathology, and for distinguished service in interdisciplinary training.”

Fellow, College of American Pathologists, 2014

Dean's Award for Excellence in Teaching, University of New Mexico Health Sciences Center, 2017

Elected Chair of Education Committee, American Society for Investigative Pathology, 2019

Distinguished Alumni Award, The Manhattan School of Music, May 17, 2019

Honorary Professorship, Strömstadt Academy, Strömstadt, Sweden (ceremony June 15, 2020)

Campaign Alumni Award, University of California San Francisco (ceremony June 5, 2020)

Key Publications

Journal Article
Page-Reeves, Janet, Murray-Krezan, Cristina, M. Regino, L, Perez, J, Bleecker, M, Perez, D, Wagner, Brent, Tigert, S, Bearer, Elaine, L. Willging, C, E 2021 A randomized control trial to test a peer support group approach for reducing social isolation and depression among female Mexican immigrants. BMC public health, vol. 21, Issue 1, 119
Journal Article
Chen, J, Lee, H, Schmitt, P, Choy, C, J Miller, D, M Williams, Brittney, Bearer, Elaine, L. Frieboes, H, B 2021 Bioengineered Models to Study Microenvironmental Regulation of Glioblastoma Metabolism. Journal of neuropathology and experimental neurology
Journal Article
Uselman, T, W Barto, D, R Jacobs, R, E Bearer, Elaine, L. 2020 Evolution of brain-wide activity in the awake behaving mouse after acute fear by longitudinal manganese-enhanced MRI. NeuroImage, vol. 222


  • French
  • Spanish

Courses Taught

Responsible Conduct in Research
Neuropathology for medical students

Research and Scholarship

Medina, CS, Manifold-Wheeler, B, Gonzales, A, and Bearer, EL. 2017. Automated computational processing of 3D MR images of mouse brain for phenotyping of living animals. Curr Protoc Mol Biol. 2017 Jul 5;119:29A.5.1-29A.5.38. doi: 10.1002/cpmb.40. PMID:28678440 PMCID: PMC5457905.

Bearer, EL and Mulligan, BS (2018). Epigenetic changes associated with early life experiences. Current Genomics, Dec;19(8):676-698. doi: 10.2174/1389202919666180307150508. PMID: 30532647

Medina, CS, Uselman, TW, Barto, DR, Chaves, F, Jacobs, RE, Bearer, EL. 2019. Decoupling the Effects of the Amyloid Precursor Protein from amyloid-? plaques on axonal transport dynamics in the brain. Front. Cell. Neurosci. 13:501. doi: 10.3389/fncel.2019.00501 PMID: 3184960, PMCID PMC6901799

Bearer, EL, Wu, C. 2019. Herpes simplex virus, Alzheimer's disease and a possible role for Rab GTPases. Front Cell Dev Biol. 2019 Aug 7;7:134. doi: 10.3389/fcell.2019.00134. eCollection 2019. PMID:31448273; PMCID:PMC6692634

Uselman TW, Barto DR, Jacobs RE, Bearer EL.(2020) Evolution of brain-wide activity in the awake behaving mouse after acute fear by longitudinal manganese-enhanced MRI. NeuroImage. DOI: 10.1016/j.neuroimage.2020.116975, PMID: 32474079