Brian Trieu

Ph.D. 2022

Member of MSTP (MD/PhD) program

E-MAIL: [email protected]

Thesis Title:

A Non-Canonical Role of Angiotensin-Converting Enzyme in Synaptic Plasticity

Current Position:

Medical Student, University of Minnesota

Undergraduate Institution and Major:

University of California, B.S. in Developmental and Cell Biology, 2011

Graduate Advisor:

Patrick Rothwell, Ph.D., Department of Neuroscience

Graduate Research:

Several neuropsychiatric diseases implicate an imbalance of excitatory and inhibitory activity within the striatum, including autism spectrum disorder and addiction. My research seeks to 1) understand how the endogenous opioid system can selectively modulate synaptic transmission and plasticity and 2) how specific opioid-dependent mechanisms of plasticity can restore excitation-inhibition balance in animal models for neuropsychiatric disease. Elucidating specific mechanisms of opioid-dependent plasticity will contribute to the development of novel therapeutics that take advantage of unique synapse-specific elements and allow for a transdiagnostic approach toward treatment of neuropsychiatric diseases.

Graduate Publications

  • Trieu BH, Remmers BC, Toddes C, Brandner DD, Lefevre EM, Kocharian A, Retzlaff CL, Dick RM, Mashal MA, Gauthier EA, Xie W, Zhang Y, More SS, Rothwell PE. Angiotensin-converting enzyme gates brain circuit-specific plasticity via an endogenous opioid. Science. 2022 Mar 11;375(6585):1177-1182.
  • Pisansky MT, Lefevre EM, Retzlaff CL, Trieu BH, Leipold DW, Rothwell PE. Nucleus accumbens fast-spiking interneurons constrain impulsive action. 2019;86(11):836-847.

Graduate Abstracts:

Oral Presentations:

  • Trieu BH. Exploiting endogenous opioids to selectively modulate accumbal synaptic transmission. GPN Colloquium Series, University of Minnesota GPN; Minneapolis, MN, May 2019.
  • Trieu BH. A 30-year-old man with behavioral change. MSTP Grand Rounds, University of Minnesota MSTP; Minneapolis, MN, April 2019.
  • Trieu BH. From bench to bedside and back again. (Invited Speaker) Inspire Conference, Institute for Engineering in Medicine; 2018 Nov 16; Minneapolis, MN.

Graduate Abstracts:

  • Trieu BH, Xie W, More SS, Rothwell PE. Modulation of accumbal synaptic transmission by the enkephalin heptapeptide MERF (Tyr-Gly-Gly-Phe-Met-Arg-Phe). International Narcotics Research Conference 50th Annual Meeting; Manhattan, NY, July 2019.
  • Trieu BH, Xie W, More SS, Rothwell PE. Unique modulation of accumbal synaptic transmission through enkephalin opioid peptides. 7th Minnesota Neuromodulation Symposium; Minneapolis, MN, April 2019.

Graduate Awards/Honors:

  • Ruth L. Kirschstein Individual Predoctoral National Research Service Award (F30) 2020-2023
  • President's Student Leadership and Service Award, 2019
  • International Narcotics Research Conference Travel Award 2019
  • MnDRIVE Neuromodulation Fellowship, 2018 - 2019

Professional Outreach:

  • Minnesota State Fair Neuromodulation and GPN booth, Aug. 2019
  • Winchell Undergrad. Research Symp., graduate panelist, MN Academy of Science, Apr. 2019
  • Minnesota State Science and Engineering Fair judge, MN Academy of Science, Mar. 2019
  • Minnesota State Brain Bee judge, MnDRIVE, Graduate Program in Neuroscience, Feb. 2019
  • Pursuing the Highest Degree workshop, Northstar STEM Alliance, Nov. 2018
  • Brain Awareness Week, Graduate Program in Neuroscienc,e Oct. 2018
  • Undergraduate Physician-Scientist Mentoring Program, UMN MSTP, 2017 – present
  • American Medical Student Association mentoring program, 2016 – present
  • Student National Medical Association mentorship program, 2015 – present

Professional Membership(s):

  • Society for Neuroscience 2012-present

Research Categories:

  • Neuropsychiatric Disease
  • Neuroscience of Drug Abuse and Addiction
  • Synaptic Plasticity ane Learning

Thesis Committee Members:

Alfonso Araque, Ph.D., Department of Neuroscience (Chair)
Patrick Rothwell, Ph.D., Department of Neuroscience
Esther Krook-Magnuson, Ph.D., Department of Neuroscience
Swati More, Ph.D., Center for Drug Design
Suma Jacob, M.D., Ph.D, Department of Psychiatry

Undergraduate Awards:

  • Excellence in Undergraduate Research, 2011
  • Dean’s Honor List, 2007-2011

Undergraduate or Post-Bac Research:

I worked with Drs. Gary Lynch and Christine Gall at UC Irvine studying hippocampal synaptic plasticity in rodents. Through a combination of electrophysiology, imaging methods, and behavioral tasks, we sought to understand and bridge the molecular mechanisms underlying long-term potentiation and behaviors associated with learning and memory.

What Got You Interested In Research?

I got hooked when I realized that there was little difference between science fiction and reality. Within a research question, I could push the boundaries of knowledge as far as my imagination will go. It’s exciting to be in a field where crazy ideas, creativity, and unique perspectives are the norm.

Why Did You Choose MN?

Minnesota offers a unique and extraordinarily cohesive climate that will facilitate my growth as a person. The Graduate Program in Neuroscience and Medical Sciences Training Program’s collaborative and rigorous training coupled with their extensive resources is an excellent environment to do creative research and foster success as a future physician-scientist.

Student Mentor and the Best Advice They Gave:

Brian Sweis: Learn for the sake of learning because neuroscience is fun and exciting stuff. Utilize classes to hone critical thinking and interpretation skills as a creative and rigorous scientist. 

Favorite Itasca Memory:

On our last weekend, we invaded the small local bar for karaoke night. It was a night full of shenanigans, tear-inducing laughter, and moments we will never forget.


Picture of Brian Trieu