Venton, B. Jill

B. Venton

B. Jill Venton

Primary Appointment

Professor, Chemistry


  • BS, Chemistry, University of Delaware
  • PhD, Chemistry, University of North Carolina
  • Postdoc, Chemistry and Neuroscience, University of Michigan

Contact Information

PO Box 400319
Charlottesville, VIRGINIA 22904
Telephone: 4342432142

Research Interests

Analytical Neurochemistry; Dopamine and Serotonin Neurotransmission in Drosophila; Mechanisms of rapid adenosine signaling in rodents

Research Description

Analytical Neurochemistry I am interested in the development and characterization of analytical techniques to measure neurochemical changes. Measurements in the brain are challenging because zeptomole quantities of neuroactive molecules must be detected in a chemically-complex sample while disturbing the tissue as little as possible. In addition, fast time resolution measurements are needed to track the fast dynamics of neurotransmitter release and uptake. The development of new analytical tools will enable a better understanding of the central nervous system which will, in turn, facilitate the development of new treatments for neurological disorders. Electrochemical Detection of Adenosine The goal of this project is to develop an electrochemical detection method for real-time monitoring of adenosine concentrations. Adenosine is a neuromodulator in the brain that has a variety of actions including regulation of cerebral blood flow, modulation of neurotransmission, and protection against neuronal injury during stroke. There is currently no reliable method for electrochemical detection of adenosine in vivo. Direct detection of adenosine using cyclic voltammetry at carbon-fiber microelectrodes will be examined as well as using electrodes modified with electron mediators. The sensor will be used to characterize extracellular adenosine release in the rat brain following electrical stimulation of neuronal activity and during ischemia, a model of stroke. Simultaneous monitoring of adenosine, oxygen and dopamine concentrations will allow studies of how adenosine modulates neurotransmission and cerebral blood flow. Finally, a finite difference model of adenosine diffusion will be constructed to examine the factors that control adenosine concentrations. Electrochemical detection of neurotransmission in Drosophila Fruit flies are used in many genetic experiments but measurements in the brain are challenging due to the small size of the central nervous system. My group has developed methods to detect neurotransmitter release in Drosophila. Using implanted microelectrodes and optogenetic stimulations, dopamine and serotonin release can be characterized on the subsecond time scale. We are currently studying genetic and pharmacological manipulations of these systems to better understand their basic mechanisms of neurotransmission.

Selected Publications