Dr. Linda M. Boland
Associate Professor of Biology
Coordinator, Neuroscience Program

My current research interests are framed around two general themes. First, how are ion channels modified in their function by changes in the cellular environment? Specifically, we are investigating how various lipids, derived from the cellular membrane, or naturally occurring steroid hormones, alter the function of voltage-gated ion channels. The ion channels do not work the same way all the time-- their function is dependent upon various endogenous modulators. We aim to understand how and why this interaction occurs, as well as the physiological significance of the changes in ion channel function. The changes impact nerve cell communication and processes such as learning and memory as well as the function of brain and heart in certain disease states. Second, we are interested in how ion channels in different life forms relate to one another, both structurally and physiologically. How did cellular excitability evolve and what adaptations in ion channel structure and function were required to support electrical activity of cells and eventually allow the development of a nervous system? By studying ion channels cloned from the genome of basal metazoans, we can better understand the evolutionary changes that have occurred in ion channel structure and function.

Current Research Students:

Julian Butler (’17)
Aaron Corbin (’16, VCU), IIS Post-Baccalaureate Fellow
Bridgette Heine (’17)
Trevor Larry (’15, Univ. Virginia), Post-Baccalaureate Fellow
Shriraj Patel (’18)
Harper Robinson (’18)
Hannah Small (’18; Beckman Scholar)
Jacqueline Sinnott (’18)

Research Student Graduates (partial list)

Herberth Balsells (physician, New York)
Erin Casey (graduate student, University of Kentucky)
Michelle Drzewiecki Gontasz (physician, Baltimore)
Blanca Flores (graduate student, Texas A & M University)
Jared Harrison (Virginia College of Osteopathic Medicine)
Robert Heler (graduate student, Rockefeller University, HHMI Pre-Doctoral Fellow)
Kalen Hendra (Virginia Tech School of Medicine)
Austin Miller (graduate student, University of Texas at Galveston)
Ariana Prinzbach (Ohio State University Medical School)
Erica Pritchard (Virginia Commonwealth University School of Medicine)
Gabriela Timoney (Temple University Medical School)
Greg Wells (employed, Stockholm, Sweden)
Erica Yamamoto (DO/MPH program, Des Moines University Osteopathic Medical School)

Grants and Fellowships

Extreme Science and Engineering Discovery Environment (XSEDE) high performance computing resources

Mednick Fellowship
American Physiological Society Research Career Enhancement Award
Research Grant from the Thomas and Kate Jeffress Memorial Trust
NSF Major Research Instrumentation Grant

Arts and Sciences Outstanding Research Mentor Award

* indicates undergraduate student co-author

Tang, Q-Y., T.C. Larry*, K. Hendra*, E. Yamamoto*, J. Bell, M. Cui, D.E. Logothetis, and L.M. Boland.  Mutations in nature conferred a high affinity phosphatidylinositol 4,5-bisphosphate-binding site in vertebrate inwardly rectifying potassium Cchannels.  (2015) Journal of Biological Chemistry 290: 16517-16529.

H. Yuan, C. Gao, Y. Chen, M. Jia, J. Geng, H. Zhang, Y. Zhan, L. M. Boland, H. An.  Divalent cations modulate TMEM16A calcium-activated chloride channels by a common mechanism (2013) Journal of Membrane Biology 246:893-902.

Heler R.*, J.K. Bell, and L.M. Boland (2013) Homology model and targeted mutagenesis identify critical residues for arachidonic acid inhibition of Kv4 channels. Channels 7:1-11

Wells, G.D.*, Q-Y Tang, R. Heler*, G.J. Tompkins-MacDonald, E.N. Pritchard*, S.P. Leys, D.E. Logothetis, and L.M. Boland (2012) A unique alkaline pH-regulated and fatty acid-activated tandem pore domain (K2P) potassium channel from a marine sponge.  Journal of Experimental Biology 215: 2435-2444.

Boland, L.M., M. M. Drzewiecki*, G. Timoney*, and E. Casey*. (2009) Inhibitory effects of polyunsaturated fatty acids on Kv4 potassium channels. American Journal of Physiology (Cell Physiology) 296:C1003-C1014.

Tompkins-MacDonald, G.J., W.J. Gallin, O. Sakarya, B. Degnan, S.P. Leys and L.M. Boland. (2009)  Expression of a Poriferan potassium channel:  Insights into the evolution of ion channels in metazoans.  Journal of Experimental Biology.

Boland, L.M. and M.M. Drzewiecki. (2008) Polyunsaturated fatty acid modulation of voltage-gated ion channels.  Cell Biochemistry and Biophysics 52:59-84.


Leggett, E.*, J. Butler, Q-Y Tang, D.E. Logothetis, L.M. Boland (2014) Kinase regulation of a PIP2-insensitive inwardly rectifying potassium channel. Society for Neuroscience

Miller, A.*, A. Prinzbach*, S. Espinosa de los Reyes*, E. Pritchard*, L.M. Boland (2014) Assessing the functional role of the C-terminus of a K2P channel. Society for Neuroscience

Larry, T.C.*, K. Hendra*, A. Paul, L.M. Boland (2013) Exploring the structural basis for PIP2 sensitivity of inwardly rectifying potassium channels. Virginia Academy of Sciences.

Heler, R.*, J. Bell, and L. M. Boland (2012)  Identification of a critical lysine residue for arachidonic acid inhibitory modulation of Kv4 channels.  Biophysical Society.

Heler, R.**, J. Bell, and L. M. Boland (2011) Identification of a Kv4 channel hydrophobic binding pocket for the inhibitory effects of polyunsaturated fatty acids. American Physiological Society.

Heler, R.*, J. Bell, and L. M. Boland (2011) Identification of a Kv4 channel hydrophobic binding pocket for the inhibitory effects of polyunsaturated fatty acids. Biophysical Society.

Heler, R.**, J. Bell, and L. M. Boland (2010) Use of a molecular model to test the physiological interaction of fatty acids and Kv4 ion channels. Virginia Academy of Sciences.

Boland, L.M., J. Bell, G.G. Timoney*, R. Deitz*, and J. Harrison* (2009) Probing the mechanism of modulation of Kv4/KChIP channels by fatty acids and endocannabinoids using a structure-guided approach.   Society for Neuroscience.

Boland, L.M. (2009) A research paradigm for the successful learning of ion channel physiology by undergraduates.  Society for Neuroscience.

G.G. Timoney*, L.M. Spicer, and L.M. Boland (2009) The structural determinants of fatty acid modulation of Kv4 channels.  FASEB/American Physiological Society.

Ph.D., University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill
M.S., Old Dominion University
B.S., Lafayette College
Contact Information
(804) 289-8571
(804) 289-8233 (Fax)
Areas of Expertise
Molecular Physiology
Ion Channels