Department of Psychology and Brain Science

Assistant Professor
Jaclyn M. Schwarz

Ph.D., University of Maryland Medical School


McKinly 111
Mon. & Wed. 11-12 & by appointment
(302) 831-4582
(302) 831-3645 Fax

Opening(s) available for grad students. Please contact Jaclyn M. Schwarz at

Jaclyn M. Schwarz

Our research focuses on understanding how events that occur during development impact later-life brain function and behavior, particularly via their influence on the neuroimmune and neuroendocrine systems.

Microglia and Neuropsychiatric Disorders. The last few decades of research have revealed that the brain is not "immune privileged". The brain has microglia, the resident immune cells of the brain that produce significant levels of cytokines and chemokines. In addition, the brain and the peripheral immune system have on-going reciprocal communication critical for altering mood, motivation, and behavior. While a significant body of literature is available on the response of microglia in the adult brain; there is a relative paucity of studies on the developmental features of microglia, and their response to early-life immune challenges. We seek to understand how developing microglia impact neural function and dysfunction, or the risk of neuropsychiatric disorders.

Sex and the Brain. Our lab also has a fundamental interest in the effect of sex on health and disease. Many sex differences in the brain and behavior are established via exposure to circulating hormones either during development or after the onset of puberty. Evidence of this presents itself in the striking sex disparity in the onset of many neuropsychiatric disorders. Males are more likely than females to be diagnosed with disorders that present early in development including autism, dyslexia, Tourette syndrome, early-onset schizophrenia, and general learning disorders. These are often considered disorders of "wiring" in the brain. In contrast, females are more likely than males to be diagnosed with disorders that present later in life, after the onset of puberty. These include major depressive disorders, generalized anxiety disorders, obsessive compulsive disorders, and late-onset schizophrenia. Many of these are considered disorders of neurochemistry in the brain. While a significant amount of research has been done to understand how sex and sex hormones influence the peripheral immune system, there has been very little research on the effects of sex and sex hormones on the neuroimmune system, or microglia, and how this may affect mental health.

In our lab we examine these questions using a combination of techniques including cell culture, molecular biology (gene expression and epigenetics), live cell imaging, flow cytometry, immunohistochemistry, and behavior, which allows us to assess the effects of challenging the immune system during distinct periods of development on microglial and neural function.

Recent Publications

Schwarz JM and Bilbo SD.  Adolescent Morphine Exposure Affects Long-Term Microglial Function and Later-Life Relapse Liability in a Model of Addiction.  Journal of Neuroscience 2013 Jan; 33(3):  961-71.

Bilbo SD and Schwarz JM.  The immune system and developmental programming of brain and behavior. Frontiers in Neuoendocrinology 2012 Aug;33(3):267-86.


Schwarz JM, Sholar PW, Bilbo SD. Sex differences in microglial colonization of the developing rat brain. Journal of Neurochemistry. 2012 Mar;120(6):948-63


Schwarz JM, Bilbo SD. Sex, glia, and development:  Interactions in health and disease. Hormones and Behavior. 2012 Feb 22.


Bilbo SD, Smith SH, Schwarz JM.  A Lifespan Approach to Neuroinflammatory and Cognitive Disorders: A Critical Role for Glia. (Review) J Neuroimmune Pharmacol. 2011 Aug 6.


Schwarz JM and Bilbo SD.  The Immune System and Brain Development. Series entitled: The Developing Brain. 2011 (Book).


Schwarz JM and Bilbo SD.  LPS elicits a much larger and broader inflammatory response than Escherichia coli infection within the hippocampus of neonatal rats. Neuroscience Letters. (2011) Jun 22; 497(2):  110-5.


Schwarz JM, Hutchinson MR, Bilbo SD.  Early-Life Experience Decreases Potential Abuse Liability of Morphine in Adulthood via Microglial-Specific Epigenetic Programming of Anti-Inflammatory IL-10 Expression. Journal of Neuroscience (2011) 31(49):17835-17847


Wright CL, Schwarz JM, Dean SL, McCarthy MM. Cellular mechanisms of estradiol mediated sexual differentiation of the brain. Trends in Endocrinology and Metabolism. (Review) 2010; (21) 553-561.


Schwarz JM, Nugent BM, McCarthy MM.  Developmental and Hormone-Induced Epigenetic Changes to Estrogen and Progesterone Receptor Genes in Brain Are Dynamic across the Life Span.  Endocrinology. (2010) Oct; 151(10):  4871-8.


Schwarz JM, Liang SL, Thompson SM, McCarthy MM.  Estradiol induces dendritic spines on developing hypothalamic neurons by enhancing glutamate release independent of transcription:  A mechanism for an organizational sex difference, Neuron (2008) May 22; 58(4):  584-98.


Schwarz JM and McCarthy MM. The role of neonatal NMDA receptor activation in defeminization and masculinization of sex behavior in the rat.  Hormones and Behavior (2008) Nov; 54(5):  662-8.


Hadjimarkou MM, Benham R, Schwarz JM, Holder MK, Mong JA.  Estradiol suppresses activation of putative sleep neurons in the ventrolateral preoptic area of the adult rat. European Journal of Neuroscience (2008) Apr; 27(7):  1780-92.


Todd BJ, Schwarz JM, Mong JA, and McCarthy MM. Glutamate AMPA/kainate receptors, not GABAA receptors, mediate estradiol induced sex differences in hypothalamic dendritic spines. Developmental Neurobiology. (2007) Jan; 67(3): 304-15.


Todd BJ, Schwarz JM, and McCarthy MM.  Prostaglandin E2:  A point of divergence in estradiol mediated sexual differentiation. (2005) Hormones and Behavior.Dec; 48(5):  512-21.


Numan M, Numan MJ, Schwarz JM, Neuner CM, Flood TF, and Smith CD.  Medial preoptic area interactions with the nucleus accumbens - ventral pallidum circuit and maternal behavior in rats.  Behavioral Brain Research (2005) Mar 7; 158(1):  53-68.


  • Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences - University of Delaware
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    Phone: 302-831-2271