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Neurotransmitter expert Amara set for March 12 Discovery Lecture

Mar. 4, 2020, 12:04 PM


by Bill Snyder

Susan Amara, PhD, scientific director of the Intramural Research Program at the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) and an expert on the biology of neurotransmitter transporters, will deliver the next Flexner Discovery Lecture on Thursday, March 12.

Susan Amara, PhD

Her lecture, “Close Encounters: Intimate Regulatory Relationships Between GPCR (G protein-coupled receptor) Signaling Events and Neurotransmitter Transporters,” will begin at 4 p.m. in 208 Light Hall. It is sponsored by the Department of Pharmacology.

Amara, who also is chief of the Laboratory of Molecular and Cellular Neurobiology at NIMH, studies the structure, function and cellular physiology of neurotransmitter transporters, including those that transport the neurotransmitters glutamate and dopamine across nerve cell membranes.

Abnormal dopaminergic signaling has been linked to several neurological disorders including Parkinson’s disease, attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder, depression, obsessive–compulsive disorder and drug addiction. Amphetamines are used to treat many of these disorders, but these drugs can be abused because of their reinforcing properties

Amara’s group has found that acute amphetamine exposure increases dopaminergic neurotransmission both by regulating the availability of glutamate and dopamine transporters and by directly activating G-protein signaling across the cell membrane. Her research has implications for the development of new targets to treat dopamine-related disorders and modulate amphetamine action.

Prior to joining NIMH in 2013, Amara was the Thomas Detre Professor of Neurobiology and Distinguished Professor at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine.

She has received numerous awards for her research, including an NIH MERIT Award from the National Institute on Drug Abuse and the Julius Axelrod Award in Pharmacology from the American Society for Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics (ASPET).

Amara is a member of the National Academy of Sciences, a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) and past president of the Society for Neuroscience. She has had 20 U.S. patents issued on technology from her laboratory.

For a complete schedule of Flexner Discovery Lectures and archived video of previous lectures, go

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