jeff jones
Jeff Jones

Assistant Professor

Fax: 979-845-2891

Jones Lab Website




116 BSBE, 437 BSBW

Joined the Department in 2021

  • B.Sc., Neuroscience, University of Texas at Dallas. 2009
  • M.Sc., Neurobiology and Behavior, Columbia University. 2010
  • Ph.D., Neuroscience, Vanderbilt University. 2015
  • Postdoctoral research, Stanford University. 2015-2016
  • Postdoctoral research, Washington University. 2016-2021

Organisms have evolved endogenous circadian (~24 h) rhythms to anticipate reliable daily events such as the light cycle. These rhythms are synchronized to local time by the master circadian pacemaker, the suprachiasmatic nucleus (SCN). The SCN, with its well-defined inputs (light) and reliable outputs (daily rhythms) is a uniquely advantageous model in which to investigate the fundamental neuroscience question of how genes, neurons, and circuits interact to influence behavior and physiology. Dissecting the circuits that regulate circadian rhythms is also crucial to understand how their disruption contributes to disease including metabolic, cardiovascular, and mood disorders. Determining the coding strategies of these circuits will inform future experiments investigating the circuit basis of circadian dysfunction that both leads to, and is a symptom of, disease.

Dr. Jones’ research to date has focused on understanding the inputs to, network regulation of, and outputs from the SCN that together generate circadian rhythms in behavior and physiology (Jones et al. 2015, 2018, 2021). To this end, Dr. Jones has developed novel methods to measure and manipulate in vivo circadian rhythms in firing and gene expression in individual animals over multiple days. These methods are critical to understand how, mechanistically, SCN firing interacts with clock gene and firing rhythms in downstream neurons to regulate circadian physiological and behavioral outputs.

The overarching research goal of the Jones Lab is to understand how circadian output from the SCN is encoded by downstream neurons to ultimately generate diverse endocrine, autonomic, and behavioral rhythms with different phases and waveforms. We aim to answer critical questions including: does SCN firing induce or shift circadian gene expression and firing in (subsets of) target neurons? Do these neurons encode daily timing signals from different SCN neuron types? How do these neurons integrate circadian input with signals from other brain regions? And, ultimately, how do rhythms in these neurons regulate circadian outputs?

  1. Jones JR, Chaturvedi S*, Granados-Fuentes D, and Herzog ED. “Circadian neurons in the paraventricular nucleus entrain and sustain daily rhythms in glucocorticoids.” (Under review, Nature Communications)
  2. Myung J, Nakamura TJ, Jones JR, Silver R, and Ono D. “Editorial: development of circadian clock functions.” Front. Neurosci. (2021)
  3. Jones JR and Herzog ED. “Elucidating wiring diagrams for circadian regulation of hormonal rhythms.” In: Biological Rhythms. (Honma K, Honma S, ed). Sapporo, Japan: Hokkaido University Press (2020)
  4. Jones JR, Tackenberg MC, and McMahon DG. “Optogenetic methods for the study of circadian rhythms.” Methods Mol. Biol. (2020).
  5. Jones JR, Simon T, Lones L, and Herzog ED. “SCN VIP neurons are essential for normal light-mediated resetting of the circadian system.” J. Neurosci. 38(37):7986-7995 (2018).
  6. Mazuski C. Abel JH, Chen SP, Hermanstyne TO, Jones JR, Simon T, Doyle FJ, and Herzog ED. “Entrainment of circadian rhythms depends on firing rates and neuropeptide release of VIP SCN neurons.” Neuron. 99(3):555-563 (2018).
  7. Tackenberg MC, Jones JR, Page TL, and Hughey JJ. “Tau-Independent Phase Analysis: A novel method for accurately determining phase shifts.” J. Biol. Rhythm. 33(3):223-232 (2018).
  8. Eban-Rothschild A, Rothschild G, Giardino WJ, Jones JR, and de Lecea L. “VTA dopaminergic neurons regulate ethologically relevant sleep–wake behaviors.” Nat. Neurosci. 19:10, 1356-1366 (2016).
  9. Jones JR and McMahon DG. “The core clock gene Per1 synchronizes molecular and electrical circadian rhythms.” PeerJ. 4:e2297 (2016).
  10. Jones JR, Tackenberg MC, and McMahon DG. “Manipulating circadian clock neuron firing rate resets molecular circadian rhythms and behavior.” Nat. Neurosci. 18, 373- 375 (2015).