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Catherine Davis

Current Position

Assistant Professor, Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences


  • PhD in American University, 2009
  • MA in American University, 2006
  • BA Washington & Jefferson College, 2004

ASPET member since: 2008

Research Areas

Dr. Davis' lab investigates neurocognitive impairment induced by exposure to ionizing radiation encountered in occupational, accidental, and therapeutic settings. Actively dividing cells are the most radiosensitive, but the brain is primarily comprised of non-dividing, post-mitotic cells. For this reason, it has been considered relatively radioresistant and only damaged by very high radiation doses. However, radiation-induced neurocognitive impairment has been found following exposures that do not cause overt brain damage or a substantial loss of cells. As such, the brain is now thought to be sensitive to low radiation doses, but the mechanisms of damage are poorly understood. Further, there are no current treatments for radiation-induced neurocognitive impairment and a minimal understanding of its etiology. To address these issues, her lab has focused on investigating radiation-induced neurocognitive impairment following exposure to different forms of ionizing. They use a range of animal behavioral assays, and pharmacological, immunohistochemical, and chemogenetic methods to identify novel mechanisms and pathways involved in these deficits and to understand the role of individual vulnerability in the onset and severity of these impairments. Finally, their goal is to develop effective treatments for these deficits and possibly countermeasures that can protect the brain and prevent these deficits from developing.

ASPET Activities

  • Postdoctoral Representative, Graduate Recruitment and Education committee, 2012-2014
  • Washington Fellow, 2013
  • Postdoc representative Behavioral Pharmacology Executive Committee, 2014-2016
  • Communications Director, Division for Pharmacology Education, 2014-2019
  • Member, Science Policy Committee, 2015-2018
  • Vice Chair, Science Policy Committee, 2018-2019
  • Chair, Science Policy Committee, 2019-present
  • Ex Officio Council (FASEB BOD representative, 2019-present
  • SURF institutional and individual reviewer
  • Behavioral pharmacology division trainee poster judge

Other Society Memberships/Activities

  • Radiation Research Society
  • Behavioral Pharmacology Society

Personal Statement

I am delighted and honored to be a candidate for ASPET Councilor. Since becoming an ASPET member in 2008, I have been actively involved in the society, including at the division level as the Postdoc Representative on the Executive Committee for the Behavioral Pharmacology Division, and Communications Director for the Division for Pharmacology Education, and most recently at the society level as the Chair of the Science Policy Committee and ASPET’s representative to the FASEB Board of Directors. In this last role, I also serve as an Ex Officio member of the ASPET Council. Through these activities, I have gained experience in several areas essential to ASPET’s continued growth, success, and service to its members, most importantly, in policy and advocacy areas where current and upcoming changes to things like open access publishing, big data management and open science initiatives, drug scheduling, and animal research regulations could significantly impact how our members complete their research, educate students, and provide a high quality research environment for their trainees. These changes are occurring in an evolving scientific landscape, where recent public health and economic challenges have highlighted the importance of forward-thinking policies regarding the best use of our resources, including virtual meeting spaces, events throughout the year, and other activities that allow our members to remain engaged with the society. With these challenges come exciting growth opportunities for ASPET and I am interested in being a Councilor to work with the ASPET staff and other volunteer leaders to develop creative solutions to move ASPET forward as the definitive home for members in all areas of pharmacology. I am confident that my previous experience and past roles within ASPET have prepared me well for the position of Councilor.    

Last Updated: November 29, 2022

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