Staff Profiles

Brian Kalmbach, Ph.D.

Scientist, Sr.

Brian joined the Allen Institute in 2016 as a scientist in the Human Cell Types research program.  Before coming to the Allen Institute, Brian worked in the laboratory of Dan Johnston at the University of Texas at Austin as a postdoctoral fellow and research scientist. He performed patch clamp recordings from the dendrite and soma to study differences in the function of subpopulations of L5 neurons in prefrontal cortex.  His work also focused on how neuron function is altered in a mouse model of Fragile X syndrome, the most common form of inherited mental impairment and the leading identified cause of autism. Brian completed his PhD in neuroscience at the University of Texas Medical School in Houston in the laboratory of Mike Mauk.  There he studied interactions between prefrontal cortex and cerebellum during a form of associative learning, trace eyelid conditioning.  Brian obtained Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in psychology at Western Washington University. 


Research Interests

The brain contains a seemingly endless number of neuron types, yet all neurons perform a similar transformation of synaptic input arriving at the dendrite into action potentials initiated at the axon. The details of this transformation vary across cell types and are crucial in determining the function of a given neuron in its circuit. I use patch-clamp recordings from the soma and dendrite to investigate how the unique morphology, synaptic and intrinsic properties of different cell types shape a neuron’s input/output transformation. In collaboration with Seattle area neurosurgeons, I am participating in a project at the Allen Institute to extend this analysis to human cerebral cortex. Our goal is to use a combined analysis of gene expression, physiology and morphology to create a comprehensive taxonomy of cell types in human temporal cortex.


  • Neurophysiology
  • Ion channels
  • Dendritic physiology
  • Behavior

Research Programs

  • Human Cell Types

Selected Publications View Publications

Specialized Subpopulations of Deep-Layer Pyramidal Neurons in the Neocortex: Bridging Cellular Properties to Functional Consequences

Journal of Neuroscience
June 13, 2018

Baker A, Kalmbach B, Morishima M, Kim J, Juavinett A, Li N, Dembrow N

A robust ex vivo experimental platform for molecular-genetic dissection of adult human neocortical cell types and circuits

Scientific Reports
May 30, 2018

Ting JT, Kalmbach B, Chong P, de Frates R, Keene CD, Gwinn RP, Cobbs C, Ko AL, Ojemann JG, Ellenbogen RG, Koch C, Lein E

h-Channels Contribute to Divergent Intrinsic Membrane Properties of Supragranular Pyramidal Neurons in Human versus Mouse Cerebral Cortex

November 1, 2018

Kalmbach BE, Buchin A, Long B, Close J, Nandi A, Miller JA, Bakken TE, Hodge RD, Chong P, de Frates R, Dai K, Maltzer Z, Nicovich PR, Keene CD, Silbergeld DL, Gwinn RP, Cobbs C, Ko AL, Ojemann JG, Koch C, Anastassiou CA, Lein ES, Ting JT

Increased transient Na+ conductance and action potential output in layer 2/3 prefrontal cortex neurons of the fmr1-/y mouse

Journal of Physiology
March 31, 2017

Routh BN, Rathour RK, Baumgardner ME, Kalmbach BE, Johnston D, Brager DH

A systems-based analysis of dendritic nonlinearities reveals temporal feature extraction in mouse L5 cortical neurons

Journal of Neurophysiology
March 1, 2017

Kalmbach BE, Gray R, Johnston D, Cook EP

Dendritic generation of mGluR-mediated slow afterdepolarization in layer 5 neurons of prefrontal cortex

Journal of Neuroscience
August 14, 2013

Kalmbach BE, Chitwood RA, Dembrow NC, Johnston D