Micky Marinelli

Principal Investigator

Michela (Micky) Marinelli is an Associate professor of Neuroscience (College of Natural Sciences). She also holds an appointment in the Department of Neurology (Dell Medical School), and courtesy appointments in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences (Dell Medical School), and in the Division of Pharmacology and Toxicology (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 main 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.

Additional projects include:

(iv) Simple and common errors in published data (e.g. Simpson’s paradox, error selecting data, use of wrong formulas to compute simple functions).

(v) Exploring alternatives to restraints and seclusions in school and psychiatric settings, and the lack of evidence for use of currently employed “de-escalation” techniques.

In addition to her research, Dr. Marinelli is invested in service, having served on numerous study sections, and having served on NIDA’s Board of Scientific Counselors from 2015 to 2021.

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 is currently one of the Graduate Student Advisors for the Institute for Neuroscience here at UT Austin. She also 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. One of the courses she teaches earned her the “Texas ten” award.

Finally, Dr. Marinelli is dedicated to scientific rigor and to training scientists in scientific rigor. Check out her work on this topic here.

Dr. Marinelli’s CV

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