Morrisett, Richard

Richard A Morrisett

College of Pharmacy

Revco Foundation Fellow in Pharmacy

Phone: 512-471-1911

Office Location
PHR 5.218C

Postal Address
The University of Texas at Austin
College of Pharmacy
1 University Station A1900
Austin, TX 78712

Neural networks – which form the backbone of information processing in the mammalian central nervous system – are primarily constructed using the two major neurotransmitters, those which mediate so-called fast excitatory and inhibitory synaptic transmission (glutamate and GABA, respectively).  Long-term alterations (plasticity) in the function of these synaptic receptors appear to be critically involved in neuroadaptive responses to drugs of abuse.  My research is aimed at increasing our basic understanding of the synaptic alterations in these critical neurotransmitter systems which underlie alcohol-related brain disorders and alcoholism.  Originally, my work dealt specifically with ethanol actions in hippocampal structures which had particular relevance to cognitive and hyperexcitability (seizure) aspects of alcoholism and withdrawal.  My lab was the first to adopt organotypic explant preparations to define how chronic ethanol exposure can directly modulate NMDA receptor function in a system devoid of complicating factors of in vivo ethanol exposure (Thomas et al., JPET, 1998; Hendricson et al., JPET, 2007).  However, in the past fifteen years, my lab has focused upon mechanisms involving ethanol dependence and craving and we are now solely directed at investigating mechanisms of ethanol modulation of information processing in mesocorticolimbic structures – specifically the nucleus accumbens (Maldve et al., Nature Neuroscience, 2002; Jeanes et al., JPET, 2011 and Neuroscience, 2014) and the ventral tegmental area as well (Theile et al., 2008, 2009, 2011).

Jeanes Z.M., Buske T.R., Morrisett R.A. In vivo chronic intermittent ethanol exposure reverses the polarity of synaptic plasticity in the Nucleus Accumbens shell. J Pharmacology Experimental Therapeutics., 336:155-64, 2011.


Theile J.W., Morikawa, H., Gonzales, R.A. Morrisett, R.A. GABAergic transmission modulates ethanol excitation of ventral tegmental area dopamine neurons. Neuroscience, 172:94-103, 2011.


Salinas, A.G., Nguyen, C.T., Ahmadi-Tehrani, D., Morrisett, R.A. Reduced ethanol consumption and preference in cocaine- and amphetamine-regulated transcript (CART) knockout mice. Addiction Biology, 19: 175-84, 2014.


Jeanes ZM, Buske TR, Morrisett RA. Cell type-specific synaptic encoding of ethanol exposure in the nucleus accumbens shell. Neuroscience, epub ahead of print.


Renteria, R, Jeanes ZM, Morrisett RA. , Ethanol attenuation of long term depression in the nucleus accumbens can be overcome by activation of TRPV1 receptors. Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Therapeutics, revision submitted.