Candace L. Savonen

Faculty Advisor:  Alison Bernstein, PhD
B.S., 2013, Oakland University
B.A., 2013, Oakland University
Entered Program in 2015

Academic and Research Background

My first experience with research was as an undergraduate, I worked in the behavioral psychology lab of Dr. Andrea Kozak. After I graduated from Oakland University, I wanted to obtain some full time, biomedical research experience and joined the lab of Dr. Michael Bannon as a research technician. In the Bannon lab, I studied gene expression of drug abuse using postmortem human brain. Then, in 2015, I started in MSU's neuroscience program and have since become more focused on studying brain genomics and epigenetics. In the Bernstein lab, we study the effect of environmental exposures on DNA modifications and whether these might contribute to Parkinson's disease risk.

Current Research Interests

Bioinformatics, genomics, epigenetics of Parkinson's Disease

Personal Interests

Swimming, camping in Michigan's Upper Peninsula, playing euchre, listening to Led Zeppelin and other classic rock, drinking good beer, and playing Scrabble.


  • Bannon, M. J., Savonen, C. L., Hartley, Z. J., Johnson, M. M., & Schmidt, C. J. (2015). Investigating the Potential Influence of Cause of Death and Cocaine Levels on the Differential Expression of Genes Associated with Cocaine Abuse. PLoS ONE, 10(2), e0117580. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0117580
  • Bannon, M. J., Savonen, C. L., Halter, S. D., Jai, H., Dachet, F., Kapatos, G., & Lipovich, L. (2016). Identification of long noncoding RNAs dysregulated in the midbrain of human cocaine abusers. Journal of Neurochemistry, 135(1):50-9. doi: 10.1111/jnc.13255

Posters and Presentations

  • Savonen, C.L., Jai, H., Dachet, F., Lipovich, L., Kapatos, G., Bannon, M.J. Differential expression of lncRNAs in the ventral midbrain of cocaine abusers. 45th Annual Meeting, Michigan Chapter, Society for Neuroscience, 2014.
  • Halter, S.D., Savonen, C.L., Jia, H., Dachet, F., Lipovich, L., Kapatos, G. and Bannon, M.J. Dopamine-cell specific expression of long non-coding RNAs in the ventral midbrain. 18th Annual WSU Graduate Student Research Day, 2014.
  • Savonen, C. L., Reimers, M. A. Increase in microglial activation genes' expression is concurrent with synaptic genes' downregulation in the context of schizophrenia. 47th Annual Meeting, Michigan Society for Neuroscience, 2016.
  • Savonen, C. L., Reimers, M. A. Microglia are more active in schizophrenia as evidenced by gene expression signatures. 48th Annual Meeting, Michigan Society for Neuroscience, 2017.