Alan Frazer, Ph.D.
Professor of Pharmacology
My primary research interest is the mechanism of action of antidepressant drugs. Historically, the focus of my lab has been to study how chronic treatment of rats with antidepressants affects the functioning of two monoamine systems, noradrenergic and serotonergic, that are important targets for their clinical effects. More recently, our interest in treatment refractory depression led us to study two treatments for it, vagal nerve stimulation or ketamine. Our studies have focused on both the mechanisms of action of these treatments and the circuits in brain necessary for their beneficial effects. The latter studies have been carried out in collaboration with Dr. Daniel Lodge in this Department, using state-of-the-art techniques such as optogenetics and designer receptors exclusively activated by designer drugs (DREADDs). A Research Assistant Professor in my lab, Dr. Flavia Carreno (pictured in Lab Members), has been the lead investigator for these studies. This work led us to study effects of selective negative allosteric modulators of α5-GABAA receptors. We found such drugs to have antidepressant-like effects similar to those of ketamine but not having ketamine’s adverse effect profile. Finally, in collaboration with another faculty member, Dr. David Morilak, we are studying both cognitive and emotional behaviors in animal models of depression or PTSD and the effect that antidepressant have on such behaviors. Our most recent work is trying to establish a behavioral model of cognitive biases relevant for the anhedonia associated with depression with such research being led by a graduate student, Aleeza Stephens (pictured in Lab Members). Although recently retired, this line of research is continuing to be carried out by my collaborators with my lab members now working directly with them and my still being involved but at a distance.
Ph.D., University of Pennsylvania
|• antidepressants||• norepinephrine|
|• serotonin transporters||• vagal nerve stimulation|
Dr. Frazer is a member of numerous societies including the American Society of Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics, the American College of Neuropsychopharmacology (of which he has been the President), the International College of Neuropsychopharmacology (CINP), of which he is a Councillor, and the Editor-in-Chief of their official publication, International Journal of Neuropsychopharmacology and the Society of Neuroscience. He is on the Scientific Advisory Board of the Brain and Behavior Research Foundation, which awards NARSAD grants. He has been awarded a Merit Award from NIH and has been a Career Scientist of the Department of Veterans Affairs.
|Flavia Carreno, Ph.D., Assistant Professor/Research||Aleeza Stephens, Graduate Research Assistant|
|Alexandra McCoy, Graduate Research Assistant|