Bearer Research & Scholarly Project

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.

Research Overview

Physical Biology textbook cover.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.

Diagram.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.

Brain tumor.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.

Image of elderly woman.Music and Mind

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.

Other Activities

Bearer also participates in a medical outreach clinic in Guatemala and 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. She teaches musical composition in the Music Department at UNM.

Reginald Heber Fitz Hall: