Beverly Piggott

Assistant Professor




1.  Howard Hughes Medical Institute, UCSF – San Francisco, CA  (2012 – 2020)

Lefkofsky Family Damon Runyon Cancer Research Foundation Postdoctoral Fellow

Research: Established the Drosophila developing nervous system as a model to understand the role of ion channels

in proliferation, differentiation, and brain tumor formation. (Research Advisor: Yuh-Nung Jan, Ph.D.)

2.  University of Michigan – Ann Arbor, MI  (2005 – 2012)

Ph.D. in Molecular and Integrative Physiology, Conferred 8.17.2012.

Research: Dissected the neural circuits and genetic basis for locomotor initiation in C. elegans through

a multi-disciplinary approach in freely moving animals. (Research Advisor: X.Z. Shawn Xu, Ph.D.)

3.  University of Wisconsin – Eau Claire, WI  (2000 - 2005)

B.S. in Biochemistry/Molecular Biology with honors, May 2005

Research: Characterized horseradish peroxidase catalyzed oxidation of azo dyes to model enzymatic

methods for bioremediation of industrial pollutants. (Research Advisor: Marcia Miller, Ph.D.)

4.  Mayo Clinic – Rochester, MN  (5.2003 – 8.2003)

Clinical Technician Intern, Laboratory of Molecular Genetics

5. Kansai Gaidai University – Hirakata, Japan  (1.2003 – 5.2003)

Foreign exchange student


Research Interests

Ion channels, exchangers and transporters permit charged molecules to move across the cell membrane. They are responsible for setting up membrane potentials (Vm) and driving forces (bioelectricity) that allow "excitable tissues" like neurons to fire and muscles to contract. More recently, it's become apparent that ion channels, exchangers and transporters also play essential roles in what have long been considered "non-excitable" tissues like stem cells. Our lab seeks to define the function of ion channels in brain development and brain tumors using Drosophila melanogaster.

The fruit fly is a powerful genetic model that has informed many important principles of brain development relevant to humans. The stem cells of the developing larval brain are called neuroblasts and share conserved molecules and patterns of development. ​Using this well-defined model, our research is interested in pursing the following topics:

1) Use Drosophila melanogaster  to identify new roles for ion channels in brain development and in brain tumors.

​2) Bioelectric influences on cell fate and ion channel contributions to distinct stages of development.

3) Investigate how human ion channel mutations affect brain development and drive pathology.


[1] Zhaoyu Li, Jiejun Zhou, Teng Yu, Khersheed Wani, Beverly J. Piggott, Jianfeng Liu, X.Z. Shawn Xu. A C.

elegans neuron that both promotes and suppresses a motor circuit to fine tune motor output. (in prep.)

[2] Piggott B.J., Peters, C.J., He, Y., Huang, X., Younger, S., Jan, L.Y., Jan Y.N. Paralytic, the Drosophila voltagegated

sodium channel, regulates proliferation of neural progenitors. (Accepted, Genes & Development)

2019. BioRxiv 2019 doi:

[3] To T.L., Piggott B.J., Makhijani K., Yu D., Jan YN., Shu X. Rationally designed fluorogenic protease reporter

visualizes spatiotemporal dynamics of apoptosis in vivo. PNAS 112(11):3338-43. 2015

[4] Piggott, B.J.*, Liu, J.* Feng, Z.*, Wescott, S.A. and Xu, X.Z.S. The neural circuits and synaptic mechanisms

underlying motor initiation in C. elegans. Cell. 147(4):922-33. 2011 *Co-first authors

[5] Li, W., Kang, L.J., Piggott, B.J., Feng, Z. and Xu, X.Z.S. Dissecting neural circuits for harsh touch behavior in C.

elegans. Nat Commun. 2:315. 2011

[6] Feng, Z., Li, W., Ward, A., Piggott, B.J., Larkspur, E.R., Sternberg, P.W., and Xu, X.Z.S. A C. elegans Model of

Nicotine-Dependent Behavior: Regulation by TRP-Family Channels. Cell 127(3): 621-633. 2006.

Honors / Awards


University of California – San Francisco

[1] Poster contest winner, UCB/UCSF/UCSC Stem Cell Retreat, Asilomar, CA 2017

[2] Lefkofsky Family Damon Runyon Cancer Research Foundation Fellowship 2013-2017

University of Michigan

[1] Harold M. Weintraub Graduate Student Award (1 of 13 nationwide) 2012

[2] Vision Research Training Program Grant 2010 - 2012

[3] Rackham Graduate School Conference Travel Award 2009

[4] Systems and Integrative Biology Training Grant 2006 - 2008

[5] ORAU Graduate Student Award to attend the 2007 Lindau Meeting of Nobel Laureates 2007

University of Wisconsin - Eau Claire 

[1] Chemistry Chair Award 2004

[2] Merck Scholar for undergraduate research 2004

[3] Chemistry Department - Gleiter Scholarship 2004

[4] Molecular Movement (Association for Biochemistry Majors) President 2004

[5] Academic Distinction