Alex Nord

Alex Nord

Position Title
Assistant Professor

Department of Neurobiology, Physiology and Behavior
Center for Neuroscience
Genome Center
Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, School of Medicine

School of Medicine Center for Neuroscience Building, 612B

Profile Introduction

We use genetics and genomics to study the development, evolution, and function of the brain

Research Interests

Genomic control of transcription in the brain

My research explores gene regulatory circuits and chromatin dynamics in the brain, studying how these features contribute to brain development, evolution, and function. I apply a combination of genomics, mouse and cell-based models, and human genetics.  My work is rooted in basic and translational science, with an ultimate goal of understanding the biological components of human diseases and disorders of the brain and improving clinical care of afflicted individuals.  To that end, I perform both experimental work and computational analysis to reveal the function of primary DNA sequence, epigenomic modifications, and chromatin structure.

I am always looking for motivated undergraduates, graduate students, and postdocs who are interested in contributing to projects addressing:

  • Chromatin and gene regulation in brain development, evolution, and function
  • Genetic models of neurodevelopmental and psychiatric disorders
  • Development and implementation of genomic applications in the clinic

Opportunities: Please contact me directly if you are interested in joining the group.  We are currently seeking a Junior Specialist to support lab research and a Postdoctoral Fellow to carry out genomic studies in neuronal cell lineages and mouse and human tissues. 

Grad Group Affiliations

  • Biochemistry, Molecular, Cellular and Developmental Biology
  • Integrative Genetics and Genomics
  • Neuroscience

Specialties / Focus

  • Animal Genomics
  • Cell Biology
  • Computational Biology
  • Developmental Biology
  • Developmental Genetics
  • Epigenomics
  • Gene Regulation
  • Genomics, Proteomics and Metabolomics
  • Human Genetics and Genomics
  • Integrated Genetics and Genomics
  • Model Organism Genetics
  • Molecular Genetics
  • Molecular Medicine
  • Neurobiology


  • BIS 101 Genetics and Gene Expression
  • GGG 290 Genomics and Epigenetics Seminar Course
  • GGG 292 Graduate Student Seminar

Honors and Awards

  • 2015 - NARSAD Young Investigator Award

    Professional Societies

    • Society for Neuroscience
    • American Society of Human Genetics


    • 2001 BA Biology Carleton College
    • 2011 PhD Genome Sciences University of Washington
    • 2014 Postdoctoral Fellow Axel Visel, Len Pennacchio, Eddy Rubin LBNL


    Wu H, Nord AS, Akiyama JA, Shoukry M, Afzal V, Rubin EM, Pennacchio LA, Visel A. Tissue-specific RNA expression marks distant-acting developmental enhancers. PLoS Genet. 2014 Sep 4;10(9):e1004610. PMID: 25188404.

    Attanasio C*, Nord AS*, Zhu Y, Blow MJ, Biddie SC, Mendenhall EM, Dixon J, Wright C, Hosseini R, Akiyama JA, Holt A, Plajzer-Frick I, Shoukry M, Afzal V, Ren B, Bernstein BE, Rubin EM, Visel A, Pennacchio LA.  Tissue-specific SMARCA4 binding at active and repressed regulatory elements during embryogenesis.   Genome Res. 2014 Jun;24(6):920-9. PMID: 24752179

    Pattabiraman K, Golonzhka O, Lindtner S, Nord AS, Taher L, Hoch R, Silberberg SN, Zhang D, Chen B, Zeng H, Pennacchio LA, Puelles L, Visel A, Rubenstein JL.  Transcriptional regulation of enhancers active in protodomains of the developing cerebral cortex.  Neuron. 2014 Jun 4;82(5):989-1003.  PMID: 24814534

    Dickel, DE, Zhu Y, Nord AS, Wylie J, Akiyama JA, Plajzer-Frick I, Bruneau BG, Cisel A, Pennacchio LA. Function-based Identification of Mammalian Enhancers. Nat Methods 2014 May;11(5):566-71. PMID: 24658141

    Nord AS, Lee M, King MC, Walsh T. Accurate and exact CNV identification from targeted high-throughput sequence data. BMC Genomics. 2011 Apr 12;12:184. PMCID: PMC3088570

    Nord AS, Blow MJ, Attanasio C, Akiyama JA, Holt A, Hosseini R, Phouanenavong S, Plajzer-Frick I, Shoukry M, Afzal V, Rubenstein JLR, Rubin EM, Pennacchio LA, Visel A. Rapid and Pervasive Changes in Genome-Wide Enhancer Usage During Mammalian Development. Cell. 2013. Dec 19;155(7): 1521-31 PMID: 24360275

    Attanasio C, Nord AS, Zhu Y, Blow MJ, Li Z, Liberton DK, Morrison H, Plajzer-Frick I, Holt A, Hosseini R, Phouanenavong S, Akiyama JA, Shoukry M, Afzal V, Rubin EM, FitzPatrick DR, Ren B, Hallgrímsson B, Pennacchio LA, Visel A. Fine tuning of craniofacial morphology by distant-acting enhancers. Science. 2013. Oct 25;342(6157):1241006. PMID: 24159046

    Visel A, Taher L, Girgis H, May D, Golonzhka O, Hoch RV, McKinsey GL, Pattabiraman K, Silberberg SN, Blow MJ, Hansen DV, Nord AS, Akiyama JA, Holt A, Hosseini R, Phouanenavong S, Plajzer-Frick I, Shoukry M, Afzal V, Kaplan T, Kriegstein AR, Rubin EM, Ovcharenko I, Pennacchio LA, Rubenstein JL. A high-resolution enhancer atlas of the developing telencephalon. Cell. 2013 Feb 14;152(4):895-908. PMCID: PMC3660042

    Nord AS, Roeb W, Dickel DE, Walsh T, Kusenda M, O'Connor KL, Malhotra D, McCarthy SE, Stray SM, Taylor SM, Sebat J; STAART Psychopharmacology Network, King B, King MC, McClellan JM. Reduced transcript expression of genes affected by inherited and de novo CNVs in autism. Eur J Hum Genet. 2011 Jun;19(6):727-31. PMCID: PMC3110052

    Walsh T, McClellan JM, McCarthy SE, Addington AM, Pierce SB, Cooper GM, Nord AS, Kusenda M, Malhotra D, Bhandari A, Stray SM, Rippey CF, Roccanova P, Makarov V, Lakshmi B, Findling RL, Sikich L, Stromberg T, Merriman B, Gogtay N, Butler P, Eckstrand K, Noory L, Gochman P, Long R, Chen Z, Davis S, Baker C, Eichler EE, Meltzer PS, Nelson SF, Singleton AB, Lee MK, Rapoport JL, King MC, Sebat J. Rare structural variants disrupt multiple genes in neurodevelopmental pathways in schizophrenia. Science. 2008 Apr 25;320(5875):539-43. PMID: 18369103

    Nord AS, Vranizan K, Tingley W, Zambon AC, Hanspers K, Fong LG, Hu Y, Bacchetti P, Ferrin TE, Babbitt PC, Doniger SW, Skarnes WC, Young SG, Conklin BR. Modeling insertional mutagenesis using gene length and expression in murine embryonic stem cells. PLoS One. 2007 Jul 18;2(7):e617. PMCID: PMC1910612

    Nord AS, Chang PJ, Conklin BR, Cox AV, Harper CA, Hicks GG, Huang CC, Johns SJ, Kawamoto M, Liu S, Meng EC, Morris JH, Rossant J, Ruiz P, Skarnes WC, Soriano P, Stanford WL, Stryke D, von Melchner H, Wurst W, Yamamura K, Young SG, Babbitt PC, Ferrin TE. The International Gene Trap Consortium Website: a portal to all publicly available gene trap cell lines in mouse. Nucleic Acids Res. 2006 Jan 1;34(Database issue):D642-8. PMCID: PMC1347459