Joanna I. Giza

Picture of Joanna I. Giza, PhD

Assistant Professor



Office Hours:



PhD in molecular, cellular and developmental biology. Specific research interests in molecular mechanisms of learning and memory, synaptic plasticity, and neurobiology of neuropsychiatric disorders. Expert in super-resolution imaging.


  • Postdoctoral Associate at Yale School of Medicine, Department of Molecular Biophysics and Biochemistry
  • Postdoctoral Fellow at Weill Cornell Medical College of Cornell University, Department of Psychiatry
  • PhD in Molecular, Cellular and Developmental Biology
  • BA/MA in Biology with specialization in Biotechnology

Courses Taught

BIO 220 (Biology II)
BIO 111 (Human Biology)
BIO 210 (Biology I)

Research and Projects

Dr. Giza’s projects encompass synaptic plasticity mechanisms regulating learning and memory and their dysregulation in neuropsychiatric disorders. Her focus is currently on analyzing the role of the growth factor prodomains in these processes including TGF beta and Brain Derived Neurotrophic Factor (BDNF) with Val66Met polymorphism present in ~25% of the human population, thus predisposing them to developing anxiety, PTSD, depression and Alzheimer’s Disease.

She is working with BMCC students on variety of research projects, is an Advisor for BMCC Neuroscience Club and was a co-Chair of the 2021 BMCC Women HerStory Month. She is also an organizer of Science Careers events and emphasizes the importance of mentoring for students.

Her recent Honors Project student Zachary Cussick was a winner at June 2021 Beacon Conference in Biology category and her recent CRSP project student Shannon Brown was a presentation winner at July-August 2021 CRSP symposium.



Wang J, Anastasia A, Bains H, Giza JI, et al. Zinc induced structural changes in the intrinsically disordered BDNF Met prodomain confer synaptic elimination [published online ahead of print, 2020 Aug 3]. Metallomics. 2020;10.1039/d0mt00108b. doi:10.1039/d0mt00108b

Yang, J., Ma, Q., Dincheva, I.,Giza JI,  et al. SorCS2 is required for social memory and trafficking of the NMDA receptor. Mol Psychiatry (2020).

Giza JI, Kim J, Meyer HC, Anastasia A, Dincheva I, Zheng CI, Lopez K, Bains H, Yang J, Bracken C, Liston C, Jing D, Hempstead BL, Lee FS. “The BDNF Val66Met prodomain disassembles dendritic spines altering fear extinction circuitry and behavior.” Neuron. 2018 Jul 11;99(1):163-178.

Giza JI, Jung Y, Jeffrey RA, Neugebauer NM, Picciotto MR, Biederer T.” The synaptic adhesion molecule SynCAM 1 contributes to cocaine effects on synapse structure and psychostimulant behavior.” Neuropsychopharmacology. 2013 Mar;38(4):628-38.

Giza J, Urbanski MJ, Prestori F, Bandyopadhyay B, Yam A, Friedrich V, Kelley K, D’Angelo E, Goldfarb M. “Behavioral and cerebellar transmission deficits in mice lacking the autism-linked gene islet brain-2.“ J Neurosci. 2010 Nov 3;30(44):14805-16.

Giza J, Biederer T. “Polysialic acid: a veteran sugar with a new site of action in the brain.” Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2010 Jun 8;107(23):10335-6.

Song M, Giza J, Proenca CC, Jing D, Elliott M, Dincheva I, Shmelkov SV, Kim J, Schreiner R, Huang SH, Castrén E, Prekeris R, Hempstead BL, Chao MV, Dictenberg JB, Rafii S, Chen ZY, Rodriguez-Boulan E, Lee FS. “Slitrk5 Mediates BDNF-Dependent TrkB Receptor Trafficking and Signaling.” Dev Cell. 2015 Jun 22;33(6):690-702.

Zhou Y, Schwartz BI, Giza J, Gross SS, Lee FS, Kreek MJ.” Blockade of alcohol escalation and “relapse” drinking by pharmacological FAAH inhibition in male and female C57BL/6J mice.” Psychopharmacology. 2017 Oct;234(19):2955- 2970.

Fogel AI, Li Y, Giza J, Wang Q, Lam TT, Modis Y, Biederer T. “ N-glycosylation at the SynCAM (synaptic cell adhesion molecule) immunoglobulin interface modulates synaptic adhesion.” J Biol Chem. 2010 Nov 5;285(45):34864-74.

Goldfarb M, Schoorlemmer J, Williams A, Diwakar S, Wang Q, Huang X, Giza J, Tchetchik D, Kelley K, Vega A, Matthews G, Rossi P, Ornitz DM, D’Angelo E. “Fibroblast growth factor homologous factors control neuronal excitability through modulation of voltage-gated sodium channels.” Neuron. 2007 Aug 2;55(3):449-63.

Michelangeli FA, Penneys DS, Giza J, Soltis D, Hils MH, Skean JD (2004). “A preliminary phylogeny of the tribe Miconieae (Melastomataceae) based on nrITS sequence data and its implications on inflorescence position.” Taxon 53(2):279-290.

Honors, Awards and Affiliations

Brain and Behavior Research Foundation Young Investigator Grant

PSC-CUNY Research Grant Award 2021-2022

Additional Information