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.

Restoring Access to Memories 'Lost' as a Result of Sleep Deprivation
09/01/2021 - 08/31/2024 (PI)
Department of Defense/AFOSR

Carol and Gene Ludwig Award for Neurodegeneration Research
09/24/2021 - 09/23/2023 (PI)
Ludwig Family Foundation

Single-Cell and Target Specific Resolution of Multiple Memories Across the Brain
09/13/2019 - 08/31/2022 (Subcontract PI)
Research Foundation for Mental Hygiene NIH NICHD

Artificially Modulating Memories to Alleviate Psychiatric Disease-Like Stress
07/01/2017 - 08/31/2022 (PI)
NIH/Office of the Director

Artificially Modulating Positive and Negative Memories to Alleviate Maladaptive Fear Responses
02/01/2018 - 01/31/2022 (PI)
The McKnight Foundation

Research Grant Support for Research Assistants (non-student)
07/01/2020 - 12/31/2021 (PI)
Ludwig Family Foundation

Research Grant Support for Research Assistant (non-student)
09/01/2018 - 08/31/2020 (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


Yr Title Project-Sub Proj Pubs
2022 Single-cell and target-specific resolution of multiple memories across the brain 5R01HD101402-04
2021 Single-cell and target-specific resolution of multiple memories across the brain 5R01HD101402-03
2021 Artificially modulating memories to alleviate psychiatric disease-like states 5DP5OD023106-07 2
2020 Single-cell and target-specific resolution of multiple memories across the brain 5R01HD101402-02
2020 Artificially modulating memories to alleviate psychiatric disease-like states 5DP5OD023106-06 2
2019 Single-cell and target-specific resolution of multiple memories across the brain 1R01HD101402-01
2019 Artificially modulating memories to alleviate psychiatric disease-like states 3DP5OD023106-05S1 2
2019 Artificially modulating memories to alleviate psychiatric disease-like states 5DP5OD023106-05 2
2018 Artificially modulating memories to alleviate psychiatric disease-like states 5DP5OD023106-04 2
2017 Artificially modulating memories to alleviate psychiatric disease-like states 5DP5OD023106-03 2
Showing 10 of 12 results. Show All Results

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.

iCite Analysis       Copy PMIDs To Clipboard

  1. Finkelstein AB, Leblanc H, Cole RH, Gallerani T, Vieira A, Zaki Y, Ramirez S. Social reactivation of fear engrams enhances memory recall. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2022 Mar 22; 119(12):e2114230119. PMID: 35286206; PMCID: PMC8944571; DOI: 10.1073/pnas.2114230119;
  2. Leblanc H, Ramirez S. Linking Social Cognition to Learning and Memory. J Neurosci. 2020 11 11; 40(46):8782-8798. PMID: 33177112; PMCID: PMC7659449; DOI: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.1280-20.2020;
  3. Doucette E, Merfeld E, Leblanc H, Monasterio A, Cincotta C, Grella SL, Logan J, Ramirez S. Social behavior in mice following chronic optogenetic stimulation of hippocampal engrams. Neurobiol Learn Mem. 2020 12; 176:107321. PMID: 33164892; PMCID: PMC7708439; DOI: 10.1016/j.nlm.2020.107321;
  4. Cincotta C, Murawski NJ, Grella SL, McKissick O, Doucette E, Ramirez S. Chronic activation of fear engrams induces extinction-like behavior in ethanol-exposed mice. Hippocampus. 2021 01; 31(1):3-10. PMID: 32946184; PMCID: PMC8383096; DOI: 10.1002/hipo.23263;
  5. Grella SL, Fortin AH, McKissick O, Leblanc H, Ramirez S. Odor modulates the temporal dynamics of fear memory consolidation. Learn Mem. 2020 04; 27(4):150-163. PMID: 32179657; PMCID: PMC7079569; DOI: 10.1101/lm.050690.119;
  6. Chen BK, Murawski NJ, Cincotta C, McKissick O, Finkelstein A, Hamidi AB, Merfeld E, Doucette E, Grella SL, Shpokayte M, Zaki Y, Fortin A, Ramirez S. Artificially Enhancing and Suppressing Hippocampus-Mediated Memories. Curr Biol. 2019 06 03; 29(11):1885-1894.e4. PMID: 31130452; PMCID: PMC6548647; DOI: 10.1016/j.cub.2019.04.065;
  7. Hamidi AB, Ramirez S. Memory: The Majestic Case of an Amnestic Trace. Curr Biol. 2018 07 23; 28(14):R784-R786. PMID: 30040937
  8. Ramirez S. Crystallizing a memory. Science. 2018 06 15; 360(6394):1182-1183. PMID: 29903960
  9. Denny CA, Lebois E, Ramirez S. From Engrams to Pathologies of the Brain. Front Neural Circuits. 2017; 11:23. PMID: 28439228; PMCID: PMC5383718; DOI: 10.3389/fncir.2017.00023;
  10. 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
Showing 10 of 20 results. Show More

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

Bar chart showing 18 publications over 10 distinct years, with a maximum of 4 publications in 2020


Recent (within 3 months)

Sniffing Out the Science of Smelling

Smithsonian Magazine 9/21/2022


Using optogenetics, scientists pinpoint the location and timing of memory formation in mice

STAT 11/11/2021

The People’s Picks for Best Posts

National Institutes of Health 1/5/2021

Brain Cell DNA Refolds Itself to Aid Memory Recall

Quanta Magazine 11/2/2020

Study Suggests Scents Alter How Memories Are Processed In The Brain

ABC 14 News 3/20/2020

Smell May Shape How Brains Process Memories

Futurity 3/18/2020

Study suggests power of scents can alter how memories are processed in brain

Business Standard 3/18/2020

Study: Scents Alter How Memories Are Processed in the Brain

Lab Manager 3/18/2020

Linking scents to memories

Cosmos Magazine 3/18/2020

Scents alter how memories are processed in the brain, new study suggests

Fox News 3/18/2020

New research reveals that scents alter how memories are processed in the brain

Science Codex 3/17/2020

The Scents That Spark Our Memories

Technology Networks 3/17/2020

What a Memory Looks Like

NIH Director’s Blog 11/21/2019

The pill that ‘deletes painful memories’: Memory-altering drug could dull painful experiences after trial of 60 heartbroken volunteers helps them ‘turn the page’ and overcome ‘obsessions’

Daily Mail 11/1/2019

If you could erase the worst memory of your life, would you? Scientists working on a pill for that

National Post 10/31/2019

How To Manipulate Memories

NEO.LIFE 10/17/2019

Can We Manipulate Memory To Fight Anxiety?

Futurity 9/18/2019

Will It Ever Be Possible to Understand the Human Brain?

OneZero 8/21/2019

Can we turn down the emotion on traumatic memories?

Futurity 5/29/2019

Study: Stimulating different parts of the brain can dial up or down a specific memory’s emotional oomph, study shows — (Details)

Tunisiesoir News 5/29/2019

The incredible science exploring how to edit our memories

New Atlas 5/29/2019

Study reveals possibility to enhance or suppress memories

News Medical 5/29/2019

Stimulating Parts Of The Brain May Enhance Or Suppress Memories

Tech Times 5/29/2019

Proof It’s Possible to Enhance or Suppress Memories: Mice Study

Technology Networks 5/29/2019

Manipulating memories could become a reality one day: study (BU research featured)

ANI News 5/29/2019

WIll you be able to manipulate your memory? New study gives hope of breakthrough

Devdiscourse 5/29/2019

Researchers figure out way to edit, enhance, suppress memories

Business Recorder 5/29/2019

Can We Turn Down The Emotion On Traumatic Memories?

ReliaWire 5/29/2019

Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind: Scientists Discover How to Enhance and Suppress Memories with Uncanny Accuracy

Outer Places 5/28/2019

Scientists Find a Volume Knob for Emotional Memories

WIRED 5/28/2019

Proof it's possible to enhance or suppress memories

MedicalXpress 5/28/2019

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

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
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