Michela (Micky) Marinelli is an Associate professor of Neuroscience, in the College of Natural Sciences. She also holds an appointment in the Department of Neurology, and courtesy appointments in the Department of Psychiatry, at Dell Medical School, and the Division of Pharmacology and Toxicology, in the College of Pharmacy.
Prior to joining UT Austin, Dr. Marinelli was a faculty member at the French equivalent of the NIH: INSERM (2000-2003) and at the Chicago Medical School/Rosalind Franklin University of Medicine and Science (2003-2013).
Dr. Marinelli’s research seeks to understand the neurobiological bases of drug addiction, with an emphasis on the biological and environmental factors that enhance susceptibility to addiction. The team uses a “systems approach”, which means they examine and integrate different variables and levels of information to understand how systems work and interact. These variables are studied in rodent models, and they range from the cellular level (neuronal activity, using electrophysiological techniques), to the molecular level (protein expression), to the circuit level (optogenetics and functional neuroanatomy), and to the whole animal level (behavioral studies, such as drug self-administration). Current projects in the lab examine (i) age and sex-differences in the ability to withstand adversity to obtain rewards, (ii) the role of an under-explored brain area (the lateral preoptic area) in reward seeking, and (iii) the interplay between stress and dopamine in mediating addiction liability.
In addition to her research, Dr. Marinelli is invested in service, having served on NIDA’s Board of Scientific Counselors, and on numerous study sections.
Dr. Marinelli is also very involved teaching. She was the Director of the Graduate Program in Cellular and Molecular Pharmacology at Rosalind Franklin University, and she directs and teaches, and taught numerous courses to undergraduate and graduate students as well as to students in health professions (medical, nursing, physician’s assistants, and pharmacy). These include communication skills, interprofessional education, experimental design and data analysis, neurological and psychiatric conditions, neuropharmacology, pharmacology, and physiology.