Dr. Cunningham is a Professor in the Department of Neurosciences at UNM-HSC. She received her PhD in Anatomical Sciences from the University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana followed by postdoctoral training in Neurobiology from the University of Rochester School of Medicine before joining UNM as Assistant Professor in 1993. Dr. Cunningham directs an active research program in preclinical models of neurologic disease, which has been continuously supported by federal and private foundation grants. She has served the NIH Center for Scientific review with both charter and ad hoc study section membership for many years. She is passionate and dedicated to biomedical research education at UNM as evidenced by her breadth of mentorship for undergraduates, graduate students, postdoctoral fellows and junior faculty. Dr. Cunningham is also currently co-director of the Preclinical Core Facility for the CoBRE Center for Brain Recovery and Repair.

Areas of Specialty

Adult Hippocampal Neurogenesis
Neural Stem Cells in CNS Plasticity and Repair
Prenatal alcohol exposure


Post-Doc, Neurobiology & Anatomy:
University of Rochester
Rochester, NY
Phd, Anatomical Sciences:
University of Illinois
Champaign-Urbana' IL
University of Illinois
Champaign-Urbana' IL

Achievements & Awards

William G. Dail Award for Outstanding Teaching and MentorshipEarl Walker Award for Outstanding Achievement in Neuroscience ResearchTeaching Award for Phase I Neuroscience Medical School CurriculumRegents Lectureship Award - University of New Mexico School of Medicine


  • English

Courses Taught

Undergraduate Medical Education:
Phase I Medical School Neurosciences
Biomedical Sciences Graduate Program:
Principles of Neurobiology
Functional Neuroanatomy

Research and Scholarship

Adult Hippocampal Neurogenesis and Prenatal Alcohol Exposure: The production of new neurons within the adult dentate gyrus of the hippocampus represents a novel form of hippocampal plasticity associated with certain forms of learning and memory. Our laboratory has demonstrated that exposure to even moderate levels of prenatal alcohol throughout gestation leads to impaired neurogenesis in adulthood, particularly in response to enriched environment. My laboratory applies genetic, behavioral and neuroanatomical approaches to elucidate the consequences and mechanisms underlying this impairment.
Endogenous neural stem cells and stroke: Focal cerebral ischemia induces a robust multilineage regenerative response whereby endogenous neural stem cells generate neuroblasts, oligodendrocyte progenitor cells and astrocytes that persist within the ischemic striatal parenchyma. My laboratory is interested in mechanisms that direct the mobilization, survival and phenotypic fate of endogenous stem cell populations following hypoxic injury and their role in endogenous functional repair.