Steve Ramirez, PhD
Assistant Professor
Boston University College of Engineering
Dept of Psychological and Brain Sciences

PhD, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

I am an Assistant Professor at Boston University in the Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences. The mission of my lab’s research is to artificially modulate memories to reverse and prevent psychiatric disease-like states, such as depression- and anxiety-related phenotypes. My previous work identified a defined set of cells active during various memory formation, genetically engineered these cells to respond to light, and optically activated or inhibited these cells while measuring the associated behavioral outputs. These projects focused on mapping out which brain regions were necessary and/or sufficient for memory recall, artificially creating false memories in the rodent brain, modulating the emotional strength associated with specific memories, and leveraging these aforementioned manipulations to reverse depression-like phenotypes. My current projects aim to study the brain-wide cellular mechanisms that confer therapeutic or deleterious value to artificially activated positive and negative memories in mice.

2018 McKnight Memory and Cognitive Disorders Award
2018 UC Irving Learning and Memory symposium: NIH Travel Award
2017 NIH: Early Independence Award
2017 Brain and Behavioral Research Foundation: NARSAD Young Investigator Award
2016 Gordon Research Conference: Travel Award
2016 American College of Neuropsychopharmacology: Travel Award
2015 Science News: Top 10 Bright Young Minds
2015 Forbes: 30 Innovators Under the Age of 30
2015 National Geographic: Breakthrough Explorer
2015 MIT: Office of the Dean Graduate Education Diversity Fellowship
2014 Science Magazine: Top 10 Breakthroughs of the Year
2014 Smithsonian Magazine: American Ingenuity Award in the area of the Natural Sciences
2014 TEDx: Speaker
2014 Pacific Standard Magazine: W orld’s Top 30 Thinkers Under the Age of 30
2013 La Recherche: Top 10 discoveries of 2013
2013 Technology Review: W orld’s Top 35 Innovators Under the Age of 35
2013 MIT: W alle Nauta Award for Continued Dedication to Teaching
2012 MIT: Angus MacDonald Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching
2012 MIT: Best Abstract

Artificially Modulating Memories to Alleviate Psychiatric Disease-Like Stress
07/01/2017 - 08/31/2021 (PI)
NIH/Office of the Director

Artificially Modulating Positive and Negative Memories to Alleviate Maladaptive Fear Responses
02/01/2018 - 01/31/2021 (PI)
The McKnight Foundation

Research Grant Support for Research Assistant (non-student)
09/01/2018 - 08/31/2019 (PI)
Ludwig Family Foundation

Preventing Stress-induced Maladaptive States with Optogentically Activated Positive Memories
09/21/2017 - 01/14/2019 (PI)
Brain & Behavior Research Foundation

The Ludwig Family Foundation Research Grant
07/01/2017 - 08/31/2018 (PI)
Ludwig Family Foundation

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.

  1. Hamidi AB, Ramirez S. Memory: The Majestic Case of an Amnestic Trace. Curr Biol. 2018 Jul 23; 28(14):R784-R786. PMID: 30040937.
  2. Ramirez S. Crystallizing a memory. Science. 2018 06 15; 360(6394):1182-1183. PMID: 29903960.
  3. Denny CA, Lebois E, Ramirez S. From Engrams to Pathologies of the Brain. Front Neural Circuits. 2017; 11:23. PMID: 28439228; DOI: 10.3389/fncir.2017.00023;.
  4. Tonegawa S, Liu X, Ramirez S, Redondo R. Memory Engram Cells Have Come of Age. Neuron. 2015 Sep 02; 87(5):918-31. PMID: 26335640.
  5. Ramirez S, Liu X, MacDonald CJ, Moffa A, Zhou J, Redondo RL, Tonegawa S. Activating positive memory engrams suppresses depression-like behaviour. Nature. 2015 Jun 18; 522(7556):335-9. PMID: 26085274; DOI: 10.1038/nature14514;.
  6. Liu X, Ramirez S, Redondo RL, Tonegawa S. Identification and Manipulation of Memory Engram Cells. Cold Spring Harb Symp Quant Biol. 2014; 79:59-65. PMID: 25637263; DOI: 10.1101/sqb.2014.79.024901;.
  7. Redondo RL, Kim J, Arons AL, Ramirez S, Liu X, Tonegawa S. Bidirectional switch of the valence associated with a hippocampal contextual memory engram. Nature. 2014 Sep 18; 513(7518):426-30. PMID: 25162525; DOI: 10.1038/nature13725;.
  8. Ramirez S, Tonegawa S, Liu X. Identification and optogenetic manipulation of memory engrams in the hippocampus. Front Behav Neurosci. 2013; 7:226. PMID: 24478647; DOI: 10.3389/fnbeh.2013.00226;.
  9. Liu X, Ramirez S, Tonegawa S. Inception of a false memory by optogenetic manipulation of a hippocampal memory engram. Philos Trans R Soc Lond B Biol Sci. 2014 Jan 05; 369(1633):20130142. PMID: 24298144; DOI: 10.1098/rstb.2013.0142;.
  10. Ramirez S, Liu X, Lin PA, Suh J, Pignatelli M, Redondo RL, Ryan TJ, Tonegawa S. Creating a false memory in the hippocampus. Science. 2013 Jul 26; 341(6144):387-91. PMID: 23888038; DOI: 10.1126/science.1239073;.
Showing 10 of 14 results. Show More

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

Bar chart showing 12 publications over 7 distinct years, with a maximum of 3 publications in 2015

Contact for Mentoring:

Recent (within 3 months)

Traumatic memories pit two neuron groups against each other

Popular Science 4/1/2019


This neuroscientist makes memories—and suppresses them

National Geographic Magazine 1/15/2019
Ramirez's Networks
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