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Nella D

- Research Program Mentor

PhD candidate at Florida State University (FSU)


Neuroscience, Cellular Biology, viruses, Pharmacology, Addiction, Science Communication, GABA, Dopamine, Neuropharmacology, Substance Abuse, Substance Use Disorders, Neural Circuitry, Mechanisms Underlying Disease, Cellular and molecular biology and developmental biology


I am a sixth year PhD candidate in Biomedical sciences at Florida State University, with more than a decade of productive research experience in academia with a background in cellular, molecular and developmental biology, pre-clinical animal rodent model techniques and handling, target identification, and validation. I am now a neuroscientist in training studying mood regulation, particularly major depressive disorders. My thesis work focuses on Dopamine D1 receptor as a potential therapeutic target for major depressive disorders. I am Haitian-American, a STEM minority advocate who has a passion for biomedical research with hobbies that include traveling, exposure to other cultures and languages.

Project ideas

Project ideas are meant to help inspire student thinking about their own project. Students are in the driver seat of their research and are free to use any or none of the ideas shared by their mentors.

Major Depressive Disorder

Major depressive disorder (MDD) is a common mental health disorder estimated to affect more than 264 million people worldwide. Currently, one of the limitations of available treatments affect one third of people with major depression who develop treatment-resistance. Previous studies found important roles for the neurotransmitter dopamine in regulating moods. Additional studies found that some interneurons receive synaptic input from dopaminergic axons, and express DA D1 and D2 receptors whereas other cortical interneurons rarely express DA signaling components. Importantly, the lineage of these fast-spiking cortical interneurons, derived from the medial ganglionic eminence (MGE) in the developing forebrain, is controlled in part by the transcription factor Nkx2.1. This information opens up a new gate for possible mechanism by which an antidepressant effect can be achieved. Using the Cre-loxP system, we selectively deleted Drd1 from medial ganglionic eminence-derived GABAergic neurons (using Nkx2.1-Cre; GABA-Drd1-cKO) in mice. We noticed strong antidepressant-like effects from loss of these D1 receptors as well as a reduction of stress hormone, corticosteroid, at baseline. We will further assess cellular adaptations and peripheral stress responses recruited due to the loss of Drd1 in our model system (MGE-Drd1-cKO mice) which may render them resistant to stress. Ideally, pursuing a deeper physiological and neural understanding of the neuroadaptations that accompany Drd1 loss from GABAergic interneurons derived from the embryonic MGE, will allow us to develop potentially innovative strategies to use in the development of new and unique therapeutics for the treatment of MDD.

Coding skills

R and GrapPad

Languages I know

French and French Creole

Teaching experience

I begin teaching as a teaching assistant at University of South Carolina-Columbia, SC while acquiring my masters degree in Biological sciences. I assisted with teaching Biology lab , Ecology Lab and some my responsibilities included lecturing materials, grading, assessing students, making quizzes and practical exams. Following this experience, I taught at Hillsborough Community College, Tampa FL as adjunct Professor in the biological science department for about a year. I taught Biological Foundations lecture and Lab for non-science majors.


Work experience

H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center (2015 - 2018)
Research Associate


Barry University
BS Bachelor of Science (2012)
University Of South Carolina - Columbia
MS Master of Science (2015)
Biological Sciences
Florida State University (FSU)
PhD Doctor of Philosophy candidate
Biomedical Sciences


"Ms. Nella Delva is a patient and approachable mentor. She answered all of my questions. If there are things I didn't understand in what I read or learned, she would clarify them. She always gave detailed feedback for my assignments, which helped me to improve in the next assignment. It has been an honor to have worked with a professor and researcher. I had no previous knowledge about research and was not quite fond of it, but I was motivated to continue research in college after I worked with her. What I loved most is that she shared her personal experiences and gave me educational advice as I transition into college."

Alexina from Paranaque City, Phillipines

Alexina from Paranaque City, Phillipines profile

Completed Projects

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