Ralph Fregosi, PhD 

Professor, Physiology
Professor, Neurobiology
Professor, Evelyn F McKnight Brain Institute
Professor, Neuroscience - GIDP
Professor, Anesthesiology
Research Interests

We study how the motor neurons that control the muscles of breathing develop, and how perinatal exposure to neurotoxins alters their normal development. The neurotoxin currently under study is nicotine. Our experimental focus is on alterations in the motor neuron biophysical properties, synaptic transmission, neurotransmitter receptor expression and gene expression. Mainstay techniques include whole cell patch clamp electrophysiology, measures of breathing in awake animals, extracellular recording of motor nerves, electromyography, immunocytochemistry, pharmacology, and RNA sequencing.


  • 1976 BS Exercise Science & Biology - University of Massachusetts-Boston
  • 1977 MS Exercise Physiology - University of Arizona
  • 1985 PhD Respiratory Physiology - University of Arizona
  • 1988 Post-Doctoral Neurophysiology - Dartmouth Medical School
Publication Highlights

Wollman LB, Flanigan EG, Fregosi RF. Chronic, episodic nicotine exposure alters GABAergic synaptictransmission to hypoglossal motor neurons and genioglossus muscle function at a critical developmentalage. J Neurophysiol. 2022 Dec 1;128(6):1483-1500. PMID: 36350047.

Pilarski JQ, Leiter JC, Fregosi RF. Muscles of Breathing: Development, Function, and Patterns ofActivation. Compr Physiol. 2019 Jun 12;9(3):1025-1080. PMID: 31187893 Review.

Wealing JC, Cholanian M, Flanigan EG, Levine RB, Fregosi RF. Diverse physiological properties ofhypoglossal motoneurons innervating intrinsic and extrinsic tongue muscles. J Neurophysiol. 20191;122(5):2054-2060. PMID: 31533009.