B. Jill Venton

Department Chair and Thomas Jefferson Professor of Chemistry
Room 413, Chemistry Building; 108, Physical Life Sciences Building


B.S. University of Delaware, 1998

Ph.D. University of North Carolina, 2002

NIH Postdoctoral Fellow, University of Michigan, 2003-2005


The Venton group is interested in the development and characterization of analytical techniques to measure neurochemical changes. Measurements in the brain are challenging because tiny quantities of neuroactive molecules must be detected in a chemically-complex sample while disturbing the tissue as little as possible. In addition, fast time resolution measurements are needed to track the fast dynamics of neurotransmitter release and uptake. Our lab develops both electrochemical and separations methods to monitor these rapid changes in neurotransmitters in model systems. The development of new analytical tools will enable a better understanding of the central nervous system and facilitate the development of new treatments for neurological disorders. Several specific projects are highlighted below:

Electrochemical Detection of Adenosine

Adenosine is a neuromodulator that has a variety of actions including regulation of cerebral blood flow, modulation of neurotransmission, and protection against neuronal injury during stroke. We are studying the regulation of adenosine release in vivo and changes in adenosine in a brain slice model of stroke using cyclic voltammetry at carbon-fiber microelectrodes. Recently, we started to expand this study of adenosine dynamics to understand whether there are any differences between males and females.

Detection of Neurotransmitter Release in Drosophila

Drosophila melanogaster (the fruit fly) is a favorite model organism for biologists, but the central nervous system of a Drosophila larva is only 8 nL in volume! Our main tool is implanting a microelectrode that can detect rapid neurotransmitter changes.  A secondary technique we have developed is capillary electrophoresis with fast-scan cyclic voltammetry detection for investigating tissue content.  We are currently developing methods to study both serotonin and dopamine release in the fly.  While initial methods were developed in the larvae, we are now studying the adult as well, targeting the central complex and the mushroom bodies.  These studies are fast and will allow access to a wide array of genetics that are possible in the fly.  Current investigations include models of Parkinson disease in the fly and how autoreceptor drugs function on the serotonin system. 

Development of Carbon Nanomaterial-Based Electrodes

Carbon nanotubes have interesting electrical, chemical and mechanical properties and have been shown to promote electron transfer in electrochemical experiments. The Venton Lab explores the electrochemical properties of carbon nanomaterial-modified and carbon nanostructured electrodes to improve the sensitivity, temporal resolution, and antifouling properties for the FSCV detection of neurotransmitters.  Recently, we have characterized carbon nanospikes, carbon nanohorns, and carbon nanopipette electrodes. We are also 3D printing carbon electrodes with custom geometries.


Recent Publications

Real-Time Measurement of Stimulated Dopamine Release in Compartments of the Adult Drosophila melanogaster Mushroom Body. M. Shin, J. M. Copeland, B. J. Venton. Analytical Chemistry, 92(21): 14398-14407 (2020).

A1 and A2A Receptors Modulate Spontaneous Adenosine but Not Mechanically Stimulated Adensoine in the Caudate. Y. Chang, Y. Wang, B. J. Venton. ACS Chemical Neuroscience, 11(20): 3377-3385 (2020).

Improving Serotonin Fast-Scan Cyclic Voltammetry Detection: New Waveforms to Reduce Electrode Fouling. K. E. Dunham, B. J. Venton. Analyst, 145: 7437-7446 (2020).

Thin Layer Cell Behavior of CNT Yarn and Cavity Carbon Nanopipette Electrodes: Effect on Catecholamine Detection. Z. Shao, P. Puthongkham, K. Hu, R. Jia, M. V. Mirkin, B. J. Venton. Electrochimica Acta, 361(20): 137032 (2020).

3D-Printed Carbon Nanoelectrodes for In Vivo Neurotransmitter Sensing. Q. Cao, M. Shin, N. V. Lavrik, B. J. Venton. Nano Letters, 20(9): 6831-6836 (2020).

Structural Similarity Image Analysis for Detection of Adenosine and Dopamine in Fast-Scan Cyclic Voltammetry Color Plots. P. Puthongkham, J. Rocha, J. R. Borgus, M. Ganesana, Y. Wang, Y. Chang, A. Gahlmann, B. J. Venton. Analytical Chemistry, 92(15): 10485-10494 (2020).

Optimization of Graphene Oxide-Modified Carbon-Fiber Microelectrode for Dopamine Detection. Y. Chang, B. J. Venton. Analytical Methods, 12: 2893-2902 (2020).

Complex Sex and Estrous Cycle Differences in Spontaneous Transient Adenosine. J. R. Borgus, P. Puthongkham, B. J. Venton. Journal of Neurochemistry, 153(2): 216-229 (2020).

Recent Advances in Fast-Scan Cyclic Voltammetry. P. Puthongkham, B. J. Venton. Analyst, 145: 1087-1102 (2020).

Fundamentals of Fast-Scan Cyclic Voltammetry for Dopamine Detection. B. J. Venton, Q. Cao. Analyst, 145: 1158-1168 (2020).

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