Integrating Bite-Sized Authentic Research Experiences into the Biology Curriculum with Dr. Nathan Fried

Dr. Nathan Fried is a neuroscientist who trained throughout the Philadelphia-area. He started in neuroscience at Drexel University studying Alzheimer’s Disease for his BS in biology and continued at Thomas Jefferson University where he completed a Ph.D. studying the pathophysiology of migraine in rats. He then completed a postdoctoral research fellowship at the University of Pennsylvania where he was an NIH K12 IRACDA fellow studying the neuronal circuitry of pain in mice. As part of this fellowship, Dr. Fried also studied ways of increasing diversity in the biomedical sciences, a passion for him since he is from a low-income background and hopes to pave a path for other non-traditional students. Dr. Fried now serves in the Department of Biology as an Assistant Teaching Professor where he’s converted his pain studies to fruit flies to make them a more accessible educational tool to undergraduates. He is also the Assistant Director to both the RUC MARC program, a research training program for students of diverse backgrounds, and the Undergraduate Biology Research & Education Program.
Most recently, Dr. Fried published in collaboration with his colleagues at the University of Pennsylvania a new way to measure pain in mice in the Journal Cell Reports (Article) (Pain Research ForumNature Lab Animal, and RUC News Now news stories). A major obstacle in the pain field is that the tools used to assess whether a novel pain therapeutic is effective in mice are not always reliable. This has led to a dearth in pain medication development and an over-reliance on opioids. Through the use of modern neuroscience techniques, slow-motion videography, statistical modeling, and machine learning, Dr. Fried and colleagues created a “mouse pain scale” that assesses the nuances of mouse posture as a more objective measure of their pain state. He hopes that this tool is adopted widely across the pain field to increase the success of finding new pain medications. Now, Dr. Fried is pursuing similar studies but with the common fruit fly. Dr. Fried also recently published a review on the use of these computational biology tools to improve the neuroethology of chronic pain in the journal Pain (Article).
Each summer, Dr. Fried recruits a cohort of undergraduates to work with him so be on the look-out for the applications each Spring. To learn more about Dr. Fried’s research, check out his website at, or follow him @NeuronNate on Twitter.