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  8. Sherry Ferguson
  1. Science & Research (NCTR)

Sherry Ferguson Ph.D.

Director — Division of Neurotoxicology

Sherry Ferguson, Ph.D., Director

Sherry Ferguson, Ph.D.
(870) 543-7121

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About  |  Publications  |  Division Scientists


Dr. Sherry Ferguson studied psychology and biology at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock, graduating with a B.A. degree in 1984. She then attended the University of Wisconsin at Madison, earning an M.S. degree in 1987 and subsequently, a Ph.D. in animal behavior in 1990. Dr. Ferguson was awarded a postdoctoral fellowship in the Division of Neurotoxicology at NCTR in 1990. In 1993, she was converted to a principal investigator. She maintains adjunct faculty status with the Department of Pediatrics and the Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences. Dr. Ferguson also has adjunct faculty status with the Department of Psychology at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock. Dr. Ferguson has been the recipient of many national and international awards, including the “New Investigator Research Award” from the Developmental Neurotoxicology Society, the “Federal Employee of the Year, Scientific and Medical for Arkansas,” and the “FDA Scientific Achievement Award for Excellence in Laboratory Science.” She has also received the “FDA Excellence in Equity Award” and four “FDA Group Recognition Awards.”

Research Interests

Dr. Ferguson’s research interests are quite diverse. She began her career investigating the neurotoxicology of lead exposure in laboratory animals and that experience then carried into her postdoctoral fellowship where she studied the cognitive effects of acute drug exposure in laboratory animals. Her interests then became focused on development and much of her career has described the neurobehavioral effects of drugs, toxicants, and environmental contaminants after developmental exposure. More recently, she has investigated ethnicity differences in Alzheimer’s disease. She has worked with five different species during her career, including a transgenic mouse model of Alzheimer’s disease. Her work has been supported by the National Institute for Environmental Health Sciences/National Toxicology Program, the National Science Foundation, and FDA’s Office of Minority Health.  

Professional Societies/National and International Groups

Developmental Neurotoxicology Society (formerly, the Neurobehavioral Teratology Society)
1992 – Present 

President (elected position)
2003 – 2004

Member, Publication Committee (elected position)
2012 – 2015

International Society to Advance Alzheimer’s Research and Treatment
2015 – Present

Society for Neuroscience
1996 – Present  

Society of Toxicology
2016 – Present


Selected Publications

Acetyl-L-carnitine Does Not Prevent Neurodegeneration in a Rodent Model of Prolonged Neonatal Anesthesia.
Walters J.L., Chelonis J.J., Fogle C.M., Ferguson S.A., Sarkar S., Paule M.G., and Talpos, J.C.  
Neurotoxicol Teratol. In press.

Increased Inflammation in BA21 Brain Tissue from African Americans with Alzheimer’s Disease.
Ferguson S.A., Varma V., Sloper D., Panos J.J., and Sarkar S.
Metabol Brain Dis.  2020, 35: 121-133.

Developmental Neurotoxicity of Inorganic Arsenic Exposure in Sprague-Dawley Rats.
Moore C.L.*, Flanigan T.J.*, Law C.D., Loukotková L., Woodling K.A., Gamboa da Costa G., Fitzpatrick S.C., and Ferguson S.A. (*shared first authorship).
Neurotoxicol Teratol. 2019, 72: 49-57.

Effects of Cyclophosphamide and/or Doxorubicin in a Murine Model of Postchemotherapy Cognitive Impairment.
Flanigan T.J., Anderson J.E., Elayan I., Allen A.R., and Ferguson S.A.
Toxicol Sci. 2018, 162: 462-474.

Neurodegenerative Markers are Increased in Postmortem BA21 Tissue from African Americans with Alzheimer’s Disease.
Ferguson S.A., Panos J.J., Sloper D., and Varma V.
J Alzheimer’s Dis. 2017, 59: 57-66.

Pre- and Postnatal Bisphenol A Treatment Does not Alter   the Number of Tyrosine Hydroxylase-Positive Cells in the Anteroventral Periventricular Nucleus (AVPV) of Weanling Male and Female Rats.
Ferguson S.A., Paule M.G., and He Z.
Brain Res. 2015, 1624: 1-8.

Effects of Perinatal Methylphenidate Treatment on Postweaning Behaviors of Male and Female Sprague-Dawley Rats.
Ferguson S.A., Law C.D., Sahin L., and Montenegro S.V.
Neurotoxicol Teratol. 2015, 47: 125-136.

Developmental Treatment with Ethinyl Estradiol, but Not Bisphenol A, Causes Alterations in Sexually Dimorphic Behaviors in Male and Female Sprague-Dawley Rats.
Ferguson S.A., Law C.D., and Kissling G.E.
Toxicol Sci. 2014, 140(2): 374-392.

A Review of Seasonal/Circannual Effects on Laboratory Rodent Behavior.
Ferguson S.A., and Maier K.L.
Physiol Behav. 2013, 119: 130-136.

A Pilot Study of Preemptive Morphine Analgesia in Preterm Neonates:  Effects on Head Circumference, Social behavior, and Response Latencies in Early Childhood.
Ferguson S.A., Ward W.L., Paule M.G., Hall R.W., and Anand K.J.S.
Neurotox Teratol. 2012, 34(1): 47-55.

Developmental Treatment with Bisphenol A or Ethinyl Estradiol Causes Few Alterations on Early Preweaning Measures.
Ferguson S.A., Law C.D., and Abshire J.S.
Toxicol Sci. 2011, 124(1): 149-160.

Cocaine Responsiveness or Anhedonia in Rats Treated with Methylphenidate During Adolescence.
Ferguson S.A., and Boctor S.Y.
Neurotoxicol Teratol. 2010, 32(4): 432-442.

Female Mini-Pig Performance of Temporal Response Differentiation, Incremental Repeated Acquisition, and Progressive Ratio Operant Tasks.
Ferguson S.A., Gopee N.V., Paule M.G., and Howard P.C.
Behav Proc. 2009, 80(1): 28-34.

Neonatal PCP is More Potent than Ketamine at Modifying Preweaning Behaviors of Sprague-Dawley Rats. 
Boctor S.Y., Wang C., and Ferguson S.A.
Toxicol Sci. 2008, 106(1): 172-179.

Oral Treatment with Accutane Does Not Increase Measures of Anhedonia or Depression in Rats.
Ferguson S.A., Cisneros F.J., Hanig J.P., and Berry K.J.
Neurotoxicol Teratol. 2007, 29(5): 642-651.

Steady-State Pharmacokinetics of Oral Treatment with 13-Cis-Retinoic Acid or All-Trans-Retinoic Acid in Male and Female Adult Rats.
Ferguson S.A., Siitonen P.H., Cisneros F.J., Gough B., and Young J.F.
Basic Clin Pharmacol Toxicol. 2006, 98(6): 582-587.

Behavioral Effects of Prenatal Folate Deficiency in Mice. 
Ferguson S.A., Berry K.J., Hansen D.K., Wall K.S., White G., and Antony A.C.
Birth Defects Res Part A Clin Mol Teratol. 2005, 73(4): 249-252.

Spatial Learning/Memory and Social & Nonsocial Behaviors in the Spontaneously Hypertensive, Wistar-Kyoto and Sprague-Dawley Rats Strains.
Ferguson S.A., and Cada A.M.
Pharmacol Biochem Behav. 2004, 77(3): 583-594.

Early Behavioral Development in the Spontaneously Hypertensive Rat:  A Comparison with the Wistar-Kyoto and the Sprague-Dawley Strains.
Ferguson S.A., Gray E.P., and Cada A.M.
Behav Neurosci. 2003, 117(2): 263-270.

Effects of Lifelong Dietary Exposure to Genistein or Nonylphenol on Amphetamine-Stimulated Striatal Dopamine Release in Male and Female Rats.
Ferguson S.A., Flynn K.M., Delclos K.B., Newbold R.R., and Gough B.J.
Neurotoxicol Teratol. 2002, 24(1): 37-45.


Division Scientists

Contact information for all lab members:
(870) 543-7121

Syed Ali
Head of Neurochemistry Laboratory

Timothy Flanigan
Research Psychologist 

Qiang Gu

Zhen He
Staff Fellow

Syed Imam
Staff Fellow

Jyotshnabala Kanungo
Research Biologist

Serguei Liachenko
Director, Bio-Imaging Lab

Fang Liu
Research Biologist

Hector Rosas-Hernandez
Staff Fellow

Sumit Sarkar
Research Biologist

John Talpos
Staff Fellow

Cheng Wang
Research Neurobiologist

Xuan Zhang
Staff Fellow


Contact Information
Sherry Ferguson
(870) 543-7121
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