Home > About > Faculty Profiles > Hakeem O. Lawal, Ph.D.

Hakeem O. Lawal, Ph.D.

Hakeem Lawal

Professor & Vice Chair

Campus Address: Department of Biological Sciences, 1200 N. Dupont Highway, SCS 122B

Emailhlawal [at] desu.edu



  • B.S., Microbiology, University of Lagos, Lagos, Nigeria, 2001
  • M.S., Molecular and Cell Biology, The University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa, Alabama, 2007
  • Ph.D., Molecular and Cell Biology, The University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa, Alabama, 2008
  • Post-doctoral Scholarship, Psychiatry and Biobehavioral Sciences, David Geffen School of Medicine at University of California, Los Angeles, California, 2013

Research Interests

My career objective is to contribute to the understanding of the molecular mechanisms that underlie debilitating neurological disorders such as Parkinson’s disease (AD) and Alzheimer’s disease (AD) and to aid in developing effective treatments against those disorders. My research interest is aimed at determining how vesicle transporters mediate neurotransmitter release and understanding the functional and behavioral significance of this event in vivo. Taking advantage of the powerful molecular genetic tools available in Drosophila, I am investigating the relationship between changes in acetylcholine release and downstream effects in vivo and the consequences of altered cholinergic release on both normal aging and in pathological states like Alzheimer’s disease. In addition, I am interested in how pesticides such as rotenone damage dopaminergic neurons; and I have approached this problem from multiple lines of inquiry.

Research Expertise

  • Neuroscience
  • Imaging
  • Mentoring/Coaching
  • Project Management
  • Grant Writing
  • Electrophysiology

Consulting Experience

  • Research grant merit review for governmental and non-governmental agencies

Consultation Expertise

I have a broad interest in biomedical research, particularly in neurodegenerative diseases; running multiple aspects of research programs; and training and mentoring of students and faculty. I welcome collaborations and partnerships in any of these areas, as well as in fostering inclusive excellence in STEM.

Selected Publications

  • Robinson, J.W., Bechard, A.T. and Frame, A.K., Evans, M.R., Atheby, A-C., Sharma, S.A., Alaka, W., Lawal, H. O., and Simon, A. The Drosophila Adult Brain: Short Overview of Structure, Function, and Resources Graphical Review Paper. SSRN. Pre-print available  at: http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.4686271

  • Asuncion, J.D., Eamani, A., Rohrbach, E.W., Deshpande, S.A., Knapp, E.M. Bonanno, S.L., Murphy, J.M., Lawal, H.O., and Krantz, D.E. 2023. Precise CRISPR-Cas9-mediated mutation of a membrane trafficking domain in the Drosophila vesicular monoamine transporter gene. Current Research in Physiology. Jun 20:6:100101. PMID: 37409154

  • Rosikon, K.D., Bone, M.C, and Lawal, H. O. 2023. Regulation and modulation of biogenic amine neurotransmission in Drosophila and Caenorhabditis elegans. Front. Physiol. 14:970405. doi: 10.3389/fphys.2023.970405. PMID: 36875033

  • White, D., de Sousa Abreu R.P., Blake, A., Murphy, J., Showell, S., Kitamoto, T., Lawal, H.O. 2020. Deficits in the vesicular acetylcholine transporter alter lifespan and behavior in adult Drosophila melanogaster. Neurochem Int. 137:104744. PMID: 32315665

  • Showell, S.S., Martinez, Y., Gondolfo, S., Boppana, S., Lawal, H.O. 2020. Overexpression of the vesicular acetylcholine transporter disrupts cognitive performance and causes age-dependent locomotion decline in Drosophila. Mol Cell Neurosci. 105:103483. PMID: 32217162.

  • Deshpande, S.A., Freyberg, Z., Lawal, H.O., Krantz, D.E. 2020. Vesicular neurotransmitter transporters in Drosophila melanogaster. Biochim Biophys Acta Biomembr. [Epub ahead of print] PMID: 32305263

  • Lawal, H., and Krantz, D.E. 2018. Drosophila as a Neurobiological Model. In Methods in Pharmacology and Toxicology. Pp. 1-58

  • Boppana, S., and Lawal. H. 2017. Data on the Specificity of an Antibody to Drosophila Vesicular Acetylcholine Transporter. Data in Brief. 15:257-261

  • Sanders, L.H., Paul, K.C., Howlett, E.H., Lawal, H., Boppana, S., Bronstein, J., Ritz, B., and Greenamyre, J.T. 2017. Base Excision Repair Variants and Pesticide Exposure Increase Parkinson’s disease Risk. Toxicol. Sci, [Epub ahead of print] PMID: 28460087

  • Boppana, S., Kendall, N., Akinrinsola, O., White, D., Patel, K. and Lawal, H.O. 2017. Immunolocalization of the vesicular acetylcholine transporter in larval and adult Drosophila neurons. Neurosci Letters. 643:76-83. PMID: 28188850


  • National Science Foundation. Grant #:2131750. Lawal, H., PI. 07/2022 - 06/2025. Title: Vesicular Acetylcholine Transporter Function in the Central Nervous System

  • National Science Foundation. Grant #. 2244195. Lawal, H. PI. 02/2024-01/2027. Title: REU Site: Inclusive and collaborative approach to cellular and molecular biology for undergraduate researchers at Delaware State

  • National Institutes of Health. Grant 1R25AG081171-01A1. Lawal, H. MPI. 04/2023-03/2028. Title: Inspiring Undergraduate Student Training in Alzheimer’s Research (USTAR). Multi-PI award with Jefferson. Status: Favorable Council meeting Jan 2024, awaiting formal approval.

  • National Institutes of Health. Grant K01AG049055-05. Lawal, H. PI. 08/2015-12/2022. Total Award: $1,002,651. Title: Acetylcholinergic Neurotransmission during Aging