Marcia H. Ratner, PhD, DABT
Project Manager
Boston University School of Medicine
Dept of Pharmacology & Experimental Therapeutics

Dr. Ratner is a Board Certified Toxicologist and Behavioral Neuroscientist. She earned her doctoral degree in Behavioral Neuroscience from the Boston University School of Medicine where she trained in the Department of Neurology under the supervision of Drs. Robert G. Feldman, MD and Raymon Durso, MD. During her doctoral training, she was an active member of the Environmental and Occupational Neurology Program at the BUSM where she gained her expertise in neurotoxicology. Dr. Ratner's dissertation research which revealed a younger age at onset of sporadic Parkinson's disease among subjects occupationally exposed to metals such as manganese and pesticides has been replicated by other investigators demonstrating the enduring importance as well as the rigor and reproducibility of her research (see Ratner et al., 2015 and Gamache et al., 2019). Dr. Ratner subsequently completed a three year National Institute on Aging funded Post-Doctoral Fellowship in the Biochemistry of Aging under the supervision of Dr. David H. Farb in the Department of Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics at the BUSM. Her postdoctoral training has provided Dr. Ratner with the additional expertise necessary to use preclinical animal models combined with in vivo electrophysiological techniques to effectively investigate how chemical exposures modulate neural network activity in vivo.

Her training at the bench and bedside has provided Dr. Ratner with genuine translational research experience in clinical as well as preclinical neuroscience and neurotoxicology. This unique combination of experience enables Dr. Ratner to effectively evaluate how chemicals modify neurological function and the progression of neurodegenerative disease in humans and animal models.

Dr. Ratner's research currently focuses on clinical and preclinical investigations of how chemicals alter neurological function in healthy subjects and those with neuropsychiatric and age related neurodegenerative diseases. She and her clinical colleagues are currently investigating the use of serum exosomal alpha synuclein levels as a biomarker for differentiating young onset Parkinson's disease from parkinsonism in welders exposed to manganese (see Rutchik and Ratner, 2019). Her preclinical research employs basic behavioral and in vivo electrophysiological techniques to investigate how chemicals modify hippocampal neural network activity and disease progression in animal models of age-related amnestic mild cognitive impairment and Alzheimer's disease. The major advantages of in vivo electrophysiology over noninvasive measures of neurological function such as surface electroencephalogram and functional imaging studies of regional cerebral blood flow is found in the ability of this powerful technology to differentiate the activity of inhibitory interneurons from that of excitatory pyramidal cells both across brain regions and within subregions. This highly translational approach is well suited for target-based as well as repurposing studies of drug-induced changes in both single unit activity and local field potentials. Dr. Ratner's paper looking at the effects of co-administration of low doses of the FDA approved anti epileptic drugs levetiracetam and valproic acid demonstrates that these compounds improve aspects of place cell firing dynamics including increasing spatial information content in aged rats (Hippocampus, 2015). The observations of Dr. Ratner and her colleagues suggest that the specificity with which, not just the rate at which, a neuron fires plays an important role in learning and memory function and, that interventions designed to increase the specificity with which hippocampal pyramidal cells fire may improve memory function in subjects with age-related amnestic mild cognitive impairment (aMCI). She and her colleagues have also demonstrated that pharmacologically decreasing tonic inhibition in wild type rats increases place cell firing rates without abolishing place cell remapping while at the same time increasing the amplitude of sharp wave ripples implicated in memory consolidation. The observed augmentation of ripple amplitude in wild type rats is not seen in TgF344-AD rats implicating disrupted tonic inhibition in the early stages of AD (Heliyon, 2021).

Dr. Ratner is an active member of the American Academy of Clinical Toxicology, American Academy of Neurology, American Psychological Association and the Society of Toxicology. Dr. Ratner is a Review Editor for the journal Frontiers in Toxicology and, she serves as an ad hoc peer reviewer for several other professional medical and scientific journals including: Neurology, Toxicology, Clinical Toxicology, Food and Chemical Toxicology, and BMC Pharmacology and Toxicology. Dr. Ratner has also served as a scientific advisor, on the role of occupational exposures to chemicals in Parkinson's disease, to the Workplace Safety Insurance Board of Ontario, Canada. In addition, she regularly serves as an ad hoc advisor to the pharmaceutical and legal services industries.

Dr. Ratner has expertise and training in the following areas:

Toxicology (Board Certified in Toxicology)
Stereotactic Brain Surgery (Rodents)
In vivo Electrophysiology
Preclinical Animal Behavioral Models of: learning and memory function; anxiety; addiction; locomotor activity; and pain.
Clinical Neurological Assessment
Human Neuropsychological Assessment

2020 The Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson's Research: Travel Award to attend Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson's Research Researcher Hill Day
2019 The Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson's Research: Travel Award to attend Parkinson’s Policy Forum in Washington D.C.
2018 The Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson's Research: Travel Award to attend Parkinson’s Policy Forum in Washington D.C.
2016 BU-CTSI National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences, NIH through Grant Number 1UL1TR001430: BU-CTSI Funding Opportunity Award
2004-2007 Boston University School of Medicine (PI: Peter Polgar; Mentor: David Farb), NRSA T32 AG 00115 : Post-Doctoral Fellowship in the Biochemistry of Aging
1995 International Honor Society in Psychology: Psi Chi

Publications listed below are automatically derived from MEDLINE/PubMed and other sources, which might result in incorrect or missing publications. Faculty can login to make corrections and additions.

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  1. Ratner MH, Downing SS, Guo O, Odamah KE, Stewart TM, Kumaresan V, Robitsek RJ, Xia W, Farb DH. Prodromal dysfunction of a5GABA-A receptor modulated hippocampal ripples occurs prior to neurodegeneration in the TgF344-AD rat model of Alzheimer's disease. Heliyon. 2021 Sep; 7(9):e07895.View Related Profiles. PMID: 34568591; PMCID: PMC8449175; DOI: 10.1016/j.heliyon.2021.e07895;
  2. Rutchik J, Bowler RM, Ratner MH. A rare case of Holmes tremor in a worker with occupational carbon monoxide poisoning. Am J Ind Med. 2021 05; 64(5):435-449. PMID: 33616228
  3. Ratner MH, Ewing WM, Rutchik JS. . Neurological Effects of Chronic Occupational Exposure to Alcohol Mists and Vapors in a Machinist. Toxicology Communications. 2020; 1(4):43-48. View Publication
  4. Rutchik J, Ratner MH. Should Age at Onset of Parkinsonism be the End Point of Interest in Investigations of the Link Between Exosomal a-Synuclein and Manganese Exposure in Welders? J Occup Environ Med. 2019 12; 61(12):e530-e531. PMID: 31568106
  5. Ratner MH, Kumaresan V, Farb DH. Neurosteroid Actions in Memory and Neurologic/Neuropsychiatric Disorders. Front Endocrinol (Lausanne). 2019; 10:169.View Related Profiles. PMID: 31024441; PMCID: PMC6465949; DOI: 10.3389/fendo.2019.00169;
  6. Rutchik J, Ratner MH. Is it Possible for Late-Onset Schizophrenia to Masquerade as Manganese Psychosis? J Occup Environ Med. 2018 04; 60(4):e207-e209. PMID: 29438152; DOI: 10.1097/JOM.0000000000001296;
  7. Ratner MH, Jabre JF, Ewing WM, Abou-Donia M, Oliver LC. Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis-A case report and mechanistic review of the association with toluene and other volatile organic compounds. Am J Ind Med. 2018 03; 61(3):251-260. PMID: 29125194; DOI: 10.1002/ajim.22791;
  8. Ratner MH, Fitzgerald E. Understanding of the role of manganese in parkinsonism and Parkinson disease. Neurology. 2017 01 24; 88(4):338-339. PMID: 28031391; DOI: 10.1212/WNL.0000000000003543;
  9. Ratner MH, Jabre JF. Reference Module in Neuroscience and Biobehavioral Psychology. Neurobehavioral Toxicology. Elsevier. 2016. View Publication
  10. Ratner MH. A critical review of the interrelationships between genetics, neurotoxicant exposure, and age at onset of neurodegenerative diseases. Current Topics in Toxicology. Research Trends. 2016; (12):1-10. View Publication
Showing 10 of 21 results. Show More

This graph shows the total number of publications by year, by first, middle/unknown, or last author.

Bar chart showing 21 publications over 13 distinct years, with a maximum of 4 publications in 2016


Dr. Ratner is available to serve as a mentor to students from the Biomedical Laboratory and Clinical Sciences Program as well as students from the Bioscience Academy. Dr. Ratner is also available to mentor graduate students from the Behavioral Neuroscience Program and the Masters in Biomedical Forensic Sciences Program. She has successfully mentored students from all of the above mentioned programs and she is accepting applications from interested students.

Available to Mentor as: (Review Mentor Role Definitions):
  • Advisor
  • Career Mentor
  • Project Mentor
  • Research / Scholarly Mentor
Contact for Mentoring:
  • Email (see 'Contact Info')
  • Phone (see 'Contact Info')

72 E. Concord St Instructional (L)
Boston MA 02118
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