Timothy Benke, MD PhD



Contact Information:

University of Colorado Denver
Department of Pharmacology
Mail Stop 8303, RC1-North
12800 East 19th Ave
Aurora CO 80045

Phone: (303) 724-3568
Fax: (303) 724-3663
E-mail: tim.benke@cuanschutz.edu

curriculum vitae

My laboratory studies the function of synapses, the primary means of communication between neurons in the brain. Discoveries include mechanisms for synaptic changes that are likely associated with learning and memory. Research is directed at discovering how synapses change with development and following seizures.  Our results are specifically directed to help prevent and treat the effects of early-life seizures (ELS), which can include autism, learning impairment and epilepsy.

We focus primarily on the hippocampus in rodents using direct observations of synaptic function with field recordings and whole-cell patch clamp measurements of synaptic events in living brain slices.  Western-blot techniques and immunohistochemistry are used to probe protein expression and localization.  Pharmacological manipulations are added to determine potential therapies.  We use in vivo behavioral techniques to further confirm and advance our translational findings back to the bedside.

Image of Whole cell patch-clamp recordings of excitory post-synaptic currents ​ Picture of Novel Object and Novel Rat

Image of Whole-dendrite patch-clamp recordings of synaptic eventsImage of Figure A and B, Loss of dendritic FMRP staining + Loss of clusters

Outside of the lab, clinical activities and projects in the Neurosciences Institute at Children's Hospital Colorado run intellectually in parallel.  We are interested in determining the molecular basis and natural history of autism, epilepsy and intellectual disability.  We focus on Rett syndrome (allMECP2 related disorders), CDKL5 deficiency syndrome, GRIN disorders, infantile spasms and Down syndrome.  All of these disorders can be associated with autism, epilepsy and intellectual disability. Additional efforts focus on the diagnosis of neurogenetic disorders in patients with autism, epilepsy and intellectual disability.

Current Lab Members 

First NameLast NameMiddle InitialDegreePosition
PhDPostdoctoral Fellow
AnnaCastano BSProfessional Research Assistant

Previous Trainees 

First NameLast NameMiddle InitialDegreePosition
PaulBernard PhDAssistant Professor
BrandonCornejoJ.PhDPostdoctoral Fellow
AllisonGehrke BSGraduate Student

Graduate Student

Pharmacology (SOM)

CU Anschutz

Research I North

12800 East 19th Avenue


Aurora, CO 80045


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