Neuropharmacology & Addiction

The goal of research in this focus area is to conduct basic research on mechanisms of how drugs of abuse, particularly alcohol, produce their rewarding and behavioral effects through changes in brain function at multiple levels of analysis:  molecular, cellular, circuit, systems, neurochemical, and behavioral.  By producing fundamental new knowledge on these mechanisms, new and improved therapies could be developed for addiction and other brain diseases.  In addition, the faculty in this area are committed to recruiting, training, and retaining the next generation of diverse researchers in neuropharmacology and addiction.


Faculty Participants: College of Pharmacy

  • Gonzales, Rueben A., Ph.D. (Group Leader)
    The goal of Gonzales’ lab is to understand the neurochemical basis for ethanol drinking behavior.
  • Duvauchelle, Christine L., Ph.D. 
    Duvauchelle is exploring neural mechanisms of reward using behavioral, pharmacological, neurochemical & immunological methodologies.
  • Gore, Andrea C., Ph.D
    Studies neuroendocrine control of reproduction and sex differences in the brain during development and aging.
  • Marinelli, Michela, Ph.D.
    Marinelli’s lab focuses on understanding the biological bases of addiction. The lab uses a systems-approach, combining complementary levels of analysis, which include molecular, cellular, anatomical, and behavioral studies.
  • Messing, Robert O., M.D.
    Messing’s research is focused on disturbances in signal transduction that contribute to addiction, emotional disorders, and pain, with the goal of identifying new treatments.
  • Mukhopadhyay, Somshuvra, M.B.B.S., Ph.D.
    A major goal of Mukhopadhyay’s research is to understand how gene-environment interactions alter neuronal physiology to induce parkinsonian disorders.
  • Nixon, Kimberly, Ph.D.
    The Nixon laboratory focuses on novel mechanisms of and drug discovery for alcoholic neuropathology. This two prong approach of novel target identification coupled with drug discovery has allowed us to make seminal discoveries in new mechanisms that contribute to brain damage and recovery in the alcohol use disorders, then use those discoveries to drive the development of novel approaches for the treatment of alcohol use disorders.

Faculty Participants: College of Natural Sciences

  • Dominguez, Juan M., Ph.D.
    Research is focused on the investigation of the the neural-endocrine regulation of motivated behaviors; using mating behavior as a prototypic model to better understand motivation and its associated disorders, especially the neuroendocrinological factors that regulate depression and addiction.
  • Harris, R. Adron, Ph.D.
    Harris’ laboratory is investigating structure and function of ion channels with emphasis on molecular mechanisms responsible for alcohol and drug actions.
  • Mihic, S. John, Ph.D.
    Mihics’ laboratory is focused on characterizing the molecular mechanisms through which alcohol, inhaled solvents, sedatives and anaesthetics act on ligand-activated ion channels.
  • Morikawa, Hitoshi, M.D., Ph.D.
    Research focuses on synaptic plasticity and neuroadaptations involved in reward-based conditioning and the development of drug addiction and alcoholism.

Associated Institutes and Centers