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Neurotransmitter transporters expert Amara set for Oct. 7 Discovery Lecture

Sep. 29, 2021, 2:58 PM

 

by Bill Snyder

Susan Amara, PhD

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 Discovery Lecture via Zoom at 4 p.m., Thursday, Oct. 7.

Her lecture, “Close Encounters: Intimate Regulatory Relationships Between GPCR Signaling Events and Neurotransmitter Transporters,” is sponsored by the Department of Pharmacology. The lecture previously was scheduled in March 2020, but was postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

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

Dopamine transporters are well-established as the primary targets for psychostimulant drugs of abuse and for drugs such as methylphenidate and amphetamines, which are used to treat attention deficit disorders.

Amara’s group has found that acute amphetamine exposure increases dopaminergic neurotransmission both by regulating the availability of glutamate and dopamine transpor- ters 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 Chair 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 from the American Society for Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics.

Amara is a member of the National Academy of Sciences, a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and past president of the Society for Neuroscience.

To register for Amara’s webinar, and for archived videos of previous Discovery Lectures, go to https://www.vumc.org/dls/.

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