Institute of Neuroscience Faculty
Professor, Department of Biology
B.S., 1975, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Ph.D., 1980, University of California, San Diego
Technology development for drug screening platforms, including anthelmintic (anti-nematode worm) drugs for human and animal health; nematode neurobiology and genetics; synaptic physiology; neural circuits for behavior; insect neurobiology; tropical infectious and parasitic diseases; research and education capacity building in Africa.
Traditionally, research in the Weeks lab investigated hormonal regulation of the structure, function and survival of neurons and neural circuits, using methods including electrophysiology, biophysics, genetics, genomics and behavioral analysis. This work focused on an extreme example of natural neural plasticity: insect metamorphosis in the moth, Manduca sexta, and fruit fly, Drosophila melanogaster, when neural circuits are reorganized to accommodate different life stages. Hormones similarly influence the vertebrate nervous system with relevance to human health such as Alzheimer's Disease and stress-induced cognitive decline.
Since the mid-1990s, Weeks has increasingly been involved with research and education in Africa, and the study of tropical parasitic and infectious diseases. Infection with parasitic nematodes causes chronic, debilitating disease in humans and animals in many resource-limited regions of the world. Existing anthelmintic (anti-nematode) drugs are losing potency due to increasing drug resistance in the parasites, and new drugs are critically needed. Within this context, the Weeks lab turned its focus to the small roundworm, Caenorhabditis elegans, a powerful model organism for biological inquiry. The Weeks lab is using combined microfluidic and electrophysiological platforms developed with Shawn Lockery to accelerate the screening process for new anthelmintic drugs, using C. elegans. The ScreenChip platform is also useful for C. elegans models of human aging and disease. Recently, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation funded the successful modification of this technology for use with human parasites such as hookworm (Ancylostoma spp.) and roundworm (Ascaris). In 2011, Weeks and Lockery founded a UO spin-off company, NemaMetrix Inc., to enhance commercialization of these devices.
Weeks has taught in and organized advanced neuroscience courses throughout Africa (e.g., Senegal, Egypt, Kenya, Democratic Republic of Congo, South Africa, Ghana) for graduate and medical students, and neuroscience faculty, under the auspices of the International Brain Research Organization. A member of the African Studies Program, Weeks performs healthcare fieldwork in Zimbabwe and is a student and performer of Zimbabwean music. At UO, she teaches courses in global health [“Tropical Diseases in Africa” (Bi309) and “HIV/AIDS in Africa” (CHC434)] and helps direct a global-health-focused study abroad and internship program in Accra, Ghana, for undergraduates.
- Weeks, JC, M Kennedy, JCC Hume, W Betz, DJ Maly, Z Zhang, E Fan, S Kappe, W Van Voorhis and KK Ojo. Ingestion of a calcium-dependent protein kinase inhibitor by mosquitoes reduces malaria transmission. Parasites and Vectors, under review.
- Lockery S.R., E. Hulme, W.M. Roberts, K.J. Robinson, A. Laromaine, T.H. Lindsay, G.M. Whitesides and J.C. Weeks (2012). A microfluidic device for whole-animal drug screening using electrophysiological measures in the nematode C. elegans. Lab on a Chip, 12:2211-20.
- Winbush A & Weeks JC (2011) Steroid-triggered, cell-autonomous death of a Drosophila motoneuron during metamorphosis. Neural Development 6:15
- Hazelett DJ & Weeks JC (2005) Segment-specific muscle degeneration is triggered directly by a steroid hormone during insect metamorphosis. J Neurobiol. 62:164-77.
- REVIEW. Weeks JC (2003) Thinking globally, acting locally: steroid hormone regulation of the dendritic architecture, synaptic connectivity and death of an individual neuron. Prog Neurobiol. 70:421-42.
- Gray JR & Weeks JC (2003) Steroid-induced dendritic regression reduces anatomical contacts between neurons during synaptic weakening and the developmental loss of a behavior. J. Neurosci. 23:1406-1415.
- Kinch GL, Hoffman KL, Rodrigues EM, Zee MC & Weeks JC (2003) Steroid-triggered programmed cell death of a motoneuron is autophagic and involves structural alterations in mitochondria. J. Comp. Neurol. 457:384-403.
- Zee MC & Weeks JC (2001) Developmental change in the steroid hormone signal for cell-autonomous, segment-specific programmed cell death of a motoneuron. Dev. Biol. 235:45-61.
- Hoffman KL & Weeks JC (2001) Role of caspases and mitochondria in the steroid-induced programmed cell death of a motoneuron during metamorphosis. Dev. Biol. 229:517-536.
- Wiel DE, Wood E & Weeks JC (2001) Habituation of the proleg withdrawal reflex in Manduca sexta does not involve changes in motoneuron properties or depression at the sensorimotor synapse. Neurobiology of Learning and Memory 76:57-80.
- Novicki A & Weeks JC (2000) Developmental attenuation of Manduca pre-ecdysis behavior involves neural changes upstream of motoneurons and relay interneurons. J. Comp. Physiol. A 186:69-79.
- Sandstrom DJ & Weeks JC (1998) Segment-specific retention of a larval neuromuscular system and its role in a new, rhythmic pupal motor pattern in Manduca sexta. J. Comp. Physiol. A. 183:283-302.
- Streichert LC, Pierce JT, Nelson JA & Weeks JC (1997) Segment-specific programmed cell death of identified motoneurons triggered directly by steroid hormones in vitro. Dev. Biol. 183:95-107.
- Lubischer JL & Weeks JC (1996) Target muscles and sensory afferents do not influence steroid-regulated, segment-specific death of identified motoneurons in Manduca sexta. J. Neurobiol. 31:449-460.
- Streichert LC & Weeks JC (1995) Decreased monosynaptic sensory input to an identified motoneuron is associated with steroid-mediated dendritic regression during metamorphosis in Manduca sexta. J. Neurosci. 15:1484-1495.