Denise Cai

Denise Cai, PhD

About Me

Dr. Denise Cai joined the Department of Neuroscience at the Friedman Brain Institute in 2017 and has been an Associate Professor since 2022. Her lab combines cellular, circuit, and behavioral techniques to study how memories are stably stored and flexibly updated across time and experience. By studying memory-linking, or how events are connected when they occur closely in the time, she hopes to understand memory disorders such as post-traumatic stress disorder. Dr. Cai is also a leader in the development of open-source neuroscience recording and analysis tools, such as Miniscope – a miniature microscope for calcium imaging in freely behaving rodents.

Prior to joining the faculty at Icahn School of Medicine, Dr. Cai was a postdoctoral fellow at the University of California Los Angeles, where she originally began her work on Miniscope. She completed her PhD in Experimental Psychology & Behavioral Neuroscience at the University of California, San Diego, where she studied the role of sleep in memory in humans and mice. Her work has been recognized with several awards and honors including Allen Institute Next Generation Leaders Council, One Mind Rising Star Award, NARSAD Young Investigator Award, Brain and Behavior Research Foundation Young Investigator Award, among others. For more information about Dr. Cai, visit

Multi-Disciplinary Training Areas

Neuroscience [NEU]