Faculty Mentors

Elva Diaz, Ph.D.

Department of Pharmacology
UC Davis School of Medicine 

Dr. Elva Diaz has a broad background in biochemistry, molecular and cell biology and genomics in studies of the mammalian nervous system. Dr. Diaz was born and raised in San Jose, CA to parents originally from Mexico, and her interest in science and math in high school eventually led her to a successful biomedical research career. After earning a bachelor’s degree from Harvard University in Biochemical Sciences in 1993 and a  summer internship at Merck & Co at Rahway, NJ, she pursued graduate studies with Suzanne Pfeffer at Stanford University and earned a Ph.D. in Biochemistry in 1999. Dr. Diaz’s graduate studies involved the molecular mechanisms of receptor trafficking in non-neuronal cells. As a postdoctoral scholar she switched fields into developmental neurobiology and worked with Tito Serafini and John Ngai at UC Berkeley and with Marc Tessier-Lavigne at UCSF before becoming a Professor in the Department of Pharmacology at UC Davis School of Medicine.

Dr. Diaz’s main research interest is to understand molecular mechanisms of brain development, function and disease. Her lab employs functional genomics approaches to identify genes upregulated during distinct phases of brain development. In particular, the lab focuses on two main areas: neural proliferation and synapse development and we have identified several candidate genes involved in these processes. Furthermore, the lab has shown that misregulation of these genes are implicated in diseases such as brain tumors, substance use, and schizophrenia.

Selected Publications:

Speca, D. J., & Diaz, E. (2020). Acyl-PEGyl Exchange Gel Shift Assay for Quantitative Determination of Palmitoylation of Brain Membrane Proteins. Journal of visualized experiments : JoVE, (157), 10.3791/61018. https://doi.org/10.3791/61018. PMID: 32281973;PMCID: PMC7220753.

Ngo, T., Corrales, A., Bourne, T., Elmojahid, S., Lam, K. S., & Díaz, E. (2019). Alternative Splicing of MXD3 and Its Regulation of MXD3 Levels in Glioblastoma. Frontiers in molecular biosciences, 6, 5. https://doi.org/10.3389/fmolb.2019.00005. PMID: 30838212;PMCID: PMC6390498

Matt L, Kirk LM, Chenaux G, Speca DJ, Puhger KR, Pride MC, Qneibi M, Haham T, Plambeck KE, Stern-Bach Y, Silverman JL, Crawley JN, Hell JW, Díaz E. SynDIG4/Prrt1 Is Required for Excitatory Synapse Development and Plasticity Underlying Cognitive Function. Cell Rep. 2018 Feb 27;22(9):2246-2253. PMID: 29490264; PMCID: PMC5856126.