The Contractor Lab

About Us

Principal Investigator

Anis Contractor, PhD

Anis Contractor received his Ph.D. in neuropharmacology from University College London in the laboratory of Professor Alasdair Gibb, where he studied the functional properties of NMDA receptors. He performed postdoctoral studies at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies with Professor Stephen Heinemann, where he studied the role of glutamate receptors in synaptic plasticity and development. He joined the faculty at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine in 2004, where his laboratory focuses on studies of synaptic and circuit mechanisms underlying neurodevelopmental and neuropsychiatric disorders in mouse models. Contractor is currently a professor in the Department of Physiology with a secondary appointment in the Department of Neurobiology.

Lab Members

Jian Xu


My research focuses on using mouse genetic models to study functions of glutamate receptors in brain.  In my spare time, I enjoy hanging out with my family and watching TV!

Ph.D. – University at Buffalo, SUNY
John Armstrong

John Armstrong


My research interests are presynaptic mechanisms of neurotransmitter release.

BA (Hons) – Psychology – Laurentian University
MSc/PhD – Psychology/Neuroscience – Carleton University
Post-Doctoral Fellowships – Dalhousie University, University of Calgary, The Salk Institute

John Marshall


I am interested in the mechanisms of synaptic plasticity that occur in basal ganglia circuits during procedural learning. I primarily use in vivo imaging, brain slice electrophysiology and analysis of mouse behavior in my projects.  I also enjoy reading, outdoor activities and exploring various ways of preparing food.
PhD – Neuroscience – Northwestern University
BA – Biochemistry & Philosophy – Columbia University

Toshihiro Nomura


I am interested in understanding the synapse pathophysiology of neuronal and neuropsychiatric disorders.  I also enjoy looking for delicious foods and drinks!

MD – Keio University School of Medicine
PhD – Keio University School of Medicine 

Charlotte Castillon


I am currently working on adult hippocampal neurogenesis.  I also enjoy dancing and baking!
PhD – Neurosciences – Paris-Saclay University
MD – Signalisation & Neurosciences – Paris-Saclay University
BS – Biology & Health – Paris-Saclay University

Shintaro Otsuka


I’m interested in how neural activity is altered in patients with neurodevelopmental disorders and how it affects their behavior. To resolve this question, I’m utilizing a head-mounted microscope and an operant task to see where and how the neural activity pattern of autistic model mice is altered during perseverative behavior, which is one of the principle symptoms in the autistic patients.

MS – Kitasato University
PhD – Keio University

Yiwen Zhu


I am currently investigating the role of GluK2 kainate receptors in the process of adult hippocampal neurogenesis. My interest is to better understand mechanisms that regulate the maturation of adult-born dentate granule neurons and how adult-neurogenesis dependent behaviors can be ultimately impacted.  I also enjoy running, shopping, and trying out new restaurants.
BA – Case Western Reserve University

Sara Ferrando-Colomer


Through electrophysiology and imaging approaches, I would like to get a better understanding of the basic and clinical neurobiological mechanisms of neuropsychiatric diseases, such as affective disorders. When not in the lab I am at a Ballet school, dancing or teaching, also practicing outdoor sports or traveling.
PhD Neuroscience – Bonn University
MSc  – Basic and Applied Neuroscience – University of Valencia
BA – Biology – University of Valencia

Interested in joining our team?

Lab Alumni

Christine Remmers

Graduate Student

 Postdoc Fellow in Bill Catterall’s lab at The University of Washington

Kelly Marshall

MS Student | Research Tech (2016-18)

Currently a graduate student at Northwestern University

Chad Morton

PostBac Student (2017-18)

Graduate student in Vanessa Ruta’s lab at The Rockefeller University

Kelly Marshall

MS Student | Research Tech (2016-18)

Gradate Student in Evangelos Kiskinis lab at Northwestern University

Stephen Kraniotis


Web Designer Extraordinaire

Claire Piochon

Postdoc Fellow (2015-18)
Lecturer at The University of Portsmouth

Herman Fernandes

PostDoc Fellow

Manager, Behavioral Pharmacology at Pyschogenics Inc

Qionger He

PostDoc Fellow

Head of Pharma Dept of International Trade British Consulate in Shanghai

Justin Catches

Graduate Student (2004-11)

Currently doing great things.

Ted Russel

Research Technician (2006-10)

Postdoc Fellow in Bill Green’s laboratory at The University of Chicago

Emily Harlow


Owner of Denali Park Adventures

Louisa A Christie

PostDoc Fellow (2007-10)

Senior Scientist at Cerevance Ltd