Christopher Cowan is professor and chair of the Department of Neuroscience at the Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC). He also holds the William E. Murray SmartState Endowed Chair in Neuroscience. He earned his B.A. from Wesleyan University and his Ph.D. from Baylor College of Medicine before completing postdoctoral training at Harvard Medical School in molecular neurobiology. He was a faculty member at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical School and Harvard Medical School prior to moving his lab to MUSC in 2016.
Cowan and his lab explore the genes and molecular mechanisms that regulate brain development, plasticity and function. They seek to understand the roles of these molecules in the developing and adult brain under neuropathological conditions, such as autism spectrum disorder, intellectual disability and substance use disorder.
His lab utilizes a broad array of experimental approaches to gain a better understanding about the underlying regulation, or dysregulation, of healthy brain function, and they take an integrated, multidisciplinary approach to address these important topics for human mental health. With respect to their research on autism, the Cowan lab explores brain developmental roles for several autism-related genes, some of which appear to work together during typical brain development to control the proper establishment of excitatory and inhibitory connections in the brain.