Ayumi Nakamura, MD, PhD

Ayumi Nakamura

Undergraduate School
University of Virginia

Medical School
University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill


Interests and Career Goals

Child and adolescent psychiatry, translational research. I have a PhD in neurobiology in which I examined the role of anti-apoptotic proteins and microRNAs in neurodevelopment, brain maturation and aging. Starting this year, I will be working in the Duke Neurobiology and Gastroenterology departments to explore the gut-brain axis in patients with autism spectrum disorders.

Favorite Pastimes

Landscape photography, traveling, spending time outdoors and cross stitching

Strengths of the Program

Wonderful co-residents, great faculty and a diverse patient population!


  • Nakamura A, Swahari V, Plestant C, Smith I, Smith S, Moy S, Anton E, Deshmukh M. Bcl-xL is essential for the survival and function of differentiated neurons in the cortex that control complex behaviors. J Neurosci. 2016. 36:5448-5461.
  • Swahari V# and Nakamura A#. Speeding Up the Clock:  The Past, Present and Future of Progeria.  Invited Review.  Dev. Growth Differ.  2016. #Denotes equal contribution.
  • Swahari V, Nakamura A, Deshmukh M.  The Paradox of Dicer in Cancer. Molecular and Cellular Oncology. 2016.
  • Annis R, Swahari V, Nakamura A, Hammond S, Deshmukh M. Mature Neurons Dynamically Restrict Apoptosis via Redundant Pre-Mitochondrial Brakes. The FEBS Journal. 2016. 283:4569-4582.
  • Swahari V#, Nakamura A#, Stroud H, Guo J, Plestant C, Simon J, Crowley N, Lowery-Gionta E, Pati D, Kurtz L, Flowers C, Liang J, He YW, Sethupathy P, Moy S, Kash T, Anton E, Greenberg M, Deshmukh M. miR-29 is an essential regulator of DNA methylation during brain maturation. Manuscript in revision at Nature. #Denotes equal contribution.
  • Swahari V, Nakamura A, Baran-Gale J, Garcia I, Crowther AJ, Sons R, Gershon TR, Hammond S, Sethupathy P, Deshmukh M. Essential function of Dicer in resolving DNA damage in the rapidly dividing cells of the developing and malignant cerebellum. Cell Reports.  2016. 14:216-224.
  • Salazar N, Butler V, Argouarch A, Hsu TY, Mason A, Nakamura A, McCurdy H, Cox D, Ng R, Pan G, Seeley WW, Miller BL, Kao AW. The progranulin cleavage products, granulins, exacerbate TDP-43 toxicity and increase TDP-43 levels.  J Neurosci.  2015. 35: 9315-9328.
  • Judy ME, Nakamura A, Huang A, Grant H, McCurdy H, Weiberth KF, Gao F, Coppola G, Kenyon C, Kao AW. A shift to organismal stress resistance in programmed cell death mutants. PLoS Genetics. 2013. 9: e1003714.
  • Kao AW, Eisenhut RJ, Martens LH, Nakamura A, Huang A, Bagley JA, Zhou P, de Luis A, Neukomm LJ, Cabello J, Farese RV Jr, Kenyon C. A neurodegenerative disease mutation that accelerates the clearance of apoptotic cells. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA. 2011. 108:4441-4446.
  • Richardson BC, Smith RD, Ungar D, Nakamura A, Jeffrey PD, Lupashin VV, and Hughson FM. Structural basis for a human glycosylation disorder caused by mutation of the COG4 gene. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA. 2009. 106:13329-13334.
  • Ridpath JR, Nakamura A, Tano K, Luke AM, Sonoda E, Arakawa H, Buerstedde JM, Gillespie DA, Sale JE, Yamazoe M, Bishop DK, Takata M, Takeda S, Watanabe M, Swenberg  JA, Nakamura J. Cells deficient in the FANC/BRCA pathway are hypersensitive to plasma levels of formaldehyde. Cancer Res. 2007. 67:11117-11122.


  • Nakamura A, Swahari V, Kurtz L, Baran-Gale J, Flowers C, Krishnamurthy J, Sharpless N, Sethupathy P, Deshmukh M.  miR-29: A molecular timer that accelerates the aging program.
  • 2015 International Cell Senescence Association Conference; Cell Senescence: From Physiology to Pathology. Santiago de Compostela, Spain.
  • 2015 Paul F. Glenn/AFAR Conference on the Biology of Aging. Santa Barbara, CA.
  • 2015 ASCI/AAP/APSA Joint Meeting. Chicago, IL.
  • 2015 RIKEN Center for Developmental Biology Symposium. Kobe, Japan.
  • Nakamura A, Swahari V, Baran-Gale J, Kurtz L, Flowers C, Krishnamurthy J, Sharpless N, Sethupathy P, Deshmukh M.  2015. miR-29: A twisted tale of the ages. John B. Graham Research Day.
  • Nakamura A, Swahari S, Plestant C, Crowley N, Lowery-Gionta E, Kurtz L, Flowers C, Liang J, He YW, Sethupathy P, Moy S, Kash T, Anton E, Deshmukh M. 2015. Loss of microRNA-29-driven brain maturation results in hyperexcitability and OCD-like behavior. UNC Neuroscience Curriculum Pierre Morell Symposium.
  • Nakamura A, Plestant C, Swahari S, Flowers C, Geden M, Xu V, Guo J, Eom TY, Kole A, Gama V, Anton A, Deshmukh M. 2014. Bcl-xL is required for neuronal survival and cell fate in the developing mammalian brain. UNC Neuroscience Curriculum Pierre Morell Symposium.