Dr. Konopka is an Associate Professor of Neuroscience and the Jon Heighten Scholar in Autism Research at UT Southwestern Medical Center. Dr. Konopka received dual bachelor of science degrees in Brain and Cognitive Sciences and Biology from MIT and completed her Ph.D. in Neurobiology at Harvard University. She has been the recipient of numerous awards including a NARSAD Young Investigator Award, an NIH Pathway to Independence Award, a Basil O’Connor Scholar Award from the March of Dimes, a Kavli Fellow of the National Academy of Sciences, and an Understanding Human Cognition Scholar Award from the James S. McDonnell Foundation.

The research in the Konopka lab focuses on understanding the molecular pathways important for human brain evolution that are also at risk in cognitive disorders such as autism, schizophrenia, and Alzheimer disease. Her lab uses a combination of human neurons, animal models, and primate comparative genomics to uncover human-specific, disease-relevant patterns of gene expression. Dr. Konopka is particularly interested in the molecular mechanisms underlying language and part of her research has focused on the FOXP family of transcription factors. Recent work in her lab integrates gene expression with signatures of neuronal activity in the human brain. The Konopka lab is also part of the international Human Cell Atlas effort to map gene expression in every cell of the human body.


Massachusetts Institute of Tec (1997), Biology
Graduate School
Harvard University (2004)

Research Interest

  • Autism spectrum disorders, schizophrenia, Alzheimer's disease
  • Brain evolution
  • Neurodevelopmental disorders
  • Neurogenetics


Featured Publications LegendFeatured Publications

Neuroscience: Genes and human brain evolution.
Geschwind DH, Konopka G Nature 2012 Jun 486 7404 481-2
The role of the FOXP family of transcription factors in ASD.
Bowers JM, Konopka G Dis. Markers 2012 33 5 251-60
The fetal brain provides a raison d'être for the evolution of new human genes.
Konopka G Brain Behav. Evol. 2012 79 4 213-4
Differential Functional Constraints on the Evolution of Postsynaptic Density Proteins in Neocortical Laminae
Wang, G.-Z., and Konopka, G. PLoS ONE 2012 7 6 e39686
HNF4A is essential for specification of hepatic progenitors from human pluripotent stem cells.
DeLaForest A, Nagaoka M, Si-Tayeb K, Noto FK, Konopka G, Battle MA, Duncan SA Development 2011 Oct 138 19 4143-53
Modeling the functional genomics of autism using human neurons.
Konopka G, Wexler E, Rosen E, Mukamel Z, Osborn GE, Chen L, Lu D, Gao F, Gao K, Lowe JK, Geschwind DH Molecular psychiatry 2011 Jun
Regulation of MET by FOXP2, genes implicated in higher cognitive dysfunction and autism risk
Mukamel Z, Konopka G, Wexler E, Osborn GE, Dong H, Bergman MY, Levitt P, Geschwind DH. J Neurosci. 2011 31 32 11437-42
Functional genomics of the brain: uncovering networks in the CNS using a systems approach.
Konopka, G. WIREs Systems Biology and Medicine 2010
Human brain evolution: harnessing the genomics (r)evolution to link genes, cognition, and behavior.
Konopka, G., and Geschwind, D.H. Neuron 2010 68(2) 231-44
Neuroscience in the era of functional genomics and systems biology.
Geschwind DH, Konopka G Nature 2009 Oct 461 7266 908-15


Featured Books Legend Featured Books

Evolution and Development of Language. In Advances in Evolutionary Developmental Biology

Miller, D.J., and Konopka, G. (2013). Hoboken, NJ, John Wiley & Sons, Inc

FOXP2: linking language and autism. In The Autisms: Molecules to Model Systems

Konopka, G. (2013). New York, NY, Oxford University Press

Honors & Awards

  • Understanding Human Cognition Scholar Award
    The James S. McDonnell Foundation (2016)
  • Basil O'Connor Starter Scholar Research Award
    March of Dimes (2013)
  • Kavli Fellow
  • Young Investigator Award
    International Society for Autism Research (2013)
  • NIH Pathway to Independence Award
    NIMH (2010)
  • Young Investigator Award
    National Alliance for Research on Schizophrenia and Depression (NARSAD) (2008)
  • A. P. Giannini Foundation Medical Research Fellowship
  • NIH NRSA Postdoctoral Fellowship

Professional Associations/Affiliations

  • International Society for Autism Research (2012)
  • UCSD/Salk Center for Academic Research and Training in Anthropogeny (CARTA) (2011)
  • Society for Neuroscience (1997)