CAN2018 Speaker profile: Beth Stevens

Beth Stevens
Beth Stevens

Plenary speaker 2:
Beth Stevens, PhD

Associate Professor of Neurology, Harvard University
Boston Children’s Hospital
Institute member of the Broad Institute

Beth Stevens and her team investigate the role microglia, which are the immune cells, in the brain of mice.  Her studies have shown that microglia play a central role in pruning neuronal connections, or synapses.  Using the mouse visual system as primary model system, she employs a combination of live imaging, molecular, biochemical and neuroanatomical approaches to understand neuron-microglia communication.

Dr. Stevens is exploring the role of microglia in the shaping of connections in the healthy brain, but also in disorders such as autism, schizophrenia and Alzheimer’s disease, which are disorders that could result from microglia pruning too much, or not enough synapses.  One of her current goals is to determine why specific synapses are targeted for elimination, while nearby synapses stay intact.

Dr. Stevens studies have led to a better understanding of the interactions and communication between neurons and glia, both in health and disease.

Learn more on the Stevens Lab website:

Selected publications:

Schafer DP, Heller CT, Gunner G, Heller M, Gordon C, Hammond T, Wolf Y, Jung S, Stevens B. (2016). Microglia contribute to circuit defects in Mecp2 null mice independent of microglia-specific loss of Mecp2 expression. Elife. 2016 Jul 26;5. pii: e15224. doi: 10.7554/eLife.15224.

Hong S, Stevens B. (2016). Microglia: Phagocytosing to Clear, Sculpt, and Eliminate. Dev Cell. 2016 Jul 25;38(2):126-8. doi: 10.1016/j.devcel.2016.07.006.

Vasek MJ, Garber C, Dorsey D, Durrant DM, Bollman B, Soung A, Yu J, Perez-Torres C, Frouin A, Wilton DK, Funk K, DeMasters BK, Jiang X, Bowen JR, Mennerick S, Robinson JK, Garbow JR, Tyler KL, Suthar MS, Schmidt RE, Stevens B, Klein RS. (2016). A complement-microglial axis drives synapse loss during virus-induced memory impairment. Nature. 2016 Jun 22;534(7608):538-43. doi: 10.1038/nature18283.

Hong S, Beja-Glasser VF, Nfonoyim BM, Frouin A, Li S, Ramakrishnan S, Merry KM, Shi Q, Rosenthal A, Barres BA, Lemere CA, Selkoe DJ, Stevens B. (2016). Complement and microglia mediate early synapse loss in Alzheimer mouse models. Science. 2016 May 6;352(6286):712-6. doi: 10.1126/science.aad8373.

Sekar A, Bialas AR, de Rivera H, Davis A, Hammond TR, Kamitaki N, Tooley K, Presumey J, Baum M, Van Doren V, Genovese G, Rose SA, Handsaker RE; Schizophrenia Working Group of the Psychiatric Genomics Consortium, Daly MJ, Carroll MC, Stevens B, McCarroll SA. (2016). Schizophrenia risk from complex variation of complement component 4. Nature. 2016 Feb 11;530(7589):177-83. doi: 10.1038/nature16549.

Chung WS, Welsh CA, Barres BA, Stevens B. (2015). Do glia drive synaptic and cognitive impairment in disease? Nat Neurosci. 2015 Nov;18(11):1539-45. doi: 10.1038/nn.4142.

Wu Y, Dissing-Olesen L, MacVicar BA, Stevens B. (2015). Microglia: Dynamic Mediators of Synapse Development and Plasticity. Trends Immunol. 2015 Oct;36(10):605-13. doi: 10.1016/

Dissing-Olesen L, Hong S, Stevens B. (2015). New Brain Lymphatic Vessels Drain Old Concepts. EBioMedicine. 2015 Aug 14;2(8):776-7. doi:10.1016/j.ebiom.2015.08.019. eCollection 2015 Aug.

Shi Q, Colodner KJ, Matousek SB, Merry K, Hong S, Kenison JE, Frost JL, Le KX, Li S, Dodart JC, Caldarone BJ, Stevens B, Lemere CA. (2015). Complement C3-Deficient Mice Fail to Display Age-Related Hippocampal Decline. J Neurosci. 2015 Sep 23;35(38):13029-42. doi: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.1698-15.2015.

Schafer DP, Stevens B. (2015). Microglia Function in Central Nervous System Development and Plasticity. Cold Spring Harb Perspect Biol. 2015 Jul 17;7(10). pii: a020545. doi: 10.1101/cshperspect.a020545.

Lehrman EK, Stevens B. (2015). Shedding light on glioma growth. Cell. 2015 May 7;161(4):704-6. doi: 10.1016/j.cell.2015.04.036.


View more recent publications by Beth Stevens on PubMed