Elva Diaz

Elva Diaz

Position Title

Department of Pharmacology, School of Medicine

3515 Genome and Biomedical Sciences Facility

Research Interests

Functional genomics of nervous system development, function and disease.

My lab's main research interest is to understand molecular mechanisms of brain development, function and disease in rodent model systems. We used expression profiling as a tool to identify genes that are developmentally regulated during mouse brain development. Candidate genes are characterized with molecular and cellular techniques and transgenic mice. Currently, we have focused our efforts on molecules that function at excitatory synapses in the hippocampus, an area of the brain important for learning and memory. Specifically, we are investigating a family of brain-specific transmembrane proteins (SynDIG/Prrt) that associate with the AMPA-type glutamate receptor and are important for their trafficking to synapses during development and plasticity. 

Grad Group Affiliations

  • Biochemistry, Molecular, Cellular and Developmental Biology
  • Neuroscience
  • Pharmacology and Toxicology

Specialties / Focus

  • Biochemistry
  • Cancer Biology
  • Cell Biology
  • Developmental Biology
  • Genomics, Proteomics and Metabolomics
  • Molecular Genetics
  • Neurobiology


  • NSC 226 Molecular and Developmental Neuroscience, Winter


  • Diaz Lab
    • Dave Speca, PhD, Research Scientist
    • Kris Plambeck, Graduate student (BMCDB)
    • Breana Wong, Undergraduate student
    • Jessica Briones, Undergraduate student

Honors and Awards

  • Helen Hay Whitney Fellowship
  • Alfred P. Sloan Research Fellowship
  • NIH Director's New Innovator Award
  • Neuroscience Graduate Group Outstanding Service Award

    Professional Societies

    • American Society of Cell Biology
    • Society for Neuroscience
    • Society for the Advancement of Chicano and Native American Scientists (SACNAS)


    • 1993 BA Biochemistry Harvard University
    • 1999 PhD Biochemistry Stanford University


    Matt L, Kirk LM, Chenaux G, Speca DJ, Puhger KR, Pride MC, Qneibi M, Haham T, Plambeck KE, Stern-Bach Y, Silverman JL, Crawley JN, Hell JW, Díaz E. SynDIG4/Prrt1 Is Required for Excitatory Synapse Development and Plasticity Underlying Cognitive Function. Cell Rep. 2018 Feb 27;22(9):2246-2253.

    Chenaux G, Matt L, Hill TC, Kaur I, Liu XB, Kirk LM, Speca DJ, McMahon SA, Zito K, Hell JW, Díaz E. Loss of SynDIG1 Reduces Excitatory Synapse Maturation But Not Formation In Vivo. eNeuro. 2016 Oct 21;3(5).

    Kaur I, Yarov-Yarovoy V, Kirk LM, Plambeck KE, Barragan EV, Ontiveros ES, Díaz E. Activity-Dependent Palmitoylation Controls SynDIG1 Stability, Localization, and Function. J Neurosci. 2016 Jul 20;36(29):7562-8.

    Kirk LM, Ti SW, Bishop HI, Orozco-Llamas M, Pham M, Trimmer JS, Díaz E. Distribution of the SynDIG4/proline-rich transmembrane protein 1 in rat brain. J Comp Neurol. 2016 Aug 1;524(11):2266-80.

    Ngo T, Barisone GA, Lam KS, and Díaz E, MXD3 regulation of DAOY cell proliferation dictated by time course of activation, BMC Cell Biol. 2014, 15:30. 

    Barisone GA, Ngo T, Tran M, Cortes D, Shahi MH, Nguyen TV, Lanza-Perez D, Matayasuwan W, and Díaz E, Role of Mxd3 in proliferation of DAOY human medulloblastoma cells . PLoS ONE. 2012;7(7):e38508. 

    Kalashnikova E, Lorca RA, Kaur I, Barisone GA, Li BH, Ishimaru T, Trimmer JS, Mohapatra DP, and Díaz E. SynDIG1: an activity-regulated AMPA receptor interacting transmembrane protein that regulates excitatory synapse development, Neuron, 2010, 65: 80-93.

    Yun JS, Rust JM, Ishimaru T, and Díaz E (2007), A novel role for the Mad family member Mad3 in cerebellar granule neuron precursor proliferation, Mol. Cell. Biol. 27: 8178-8189.

    Díaz E, Ge Y, Yang YH, Loh KC, Serafini TA, Okazaki Y, Hayashizaki Y, Speed TP, Ngai J and Scheiffele P. (2002). Molecular analysis of gene expression in the developing pontocerebellar projection system. Neuron 36, 417-434.