Stephanie Perez, Ph.D.

Postdoctoral Fellow

Personal Statement:

Evidence supports the hypothesis that a pathological increase in hippocampal output drives hyperactivity of the mesolimbic dopamine system in rodent models of schizophrenia. Previously, we have demonstrated that aberrant dopamine system function and associated behaviors can be restored with cell based therapies, as well as, by directly (TTX inactivation, deep brain stimulation) and indirectly (vagal nerve stimulation) targeting the ventral hippocampus. We are now utilizing an optogenetic approach combined with electrophysiology to determine whether afferents differentially regulate discrete populations of VTA dopamine neurons and whether these discrete subpopulations are differentially regulated in rodent models of schizophrenia and drug sensitization. We believe that dopamine neuron subpopulations are differentially affected by afferent modulation in various disease states, possibly explaining the differences we observe in symptomology of diseases that exhibit hyperactivity of the mesolimbic dopamine system. We believe these data will help us to better understand subtle differences in discrete dopamine neuron subpopulations that contribute to the symptoms of schizophrenia and drug sensitization, ultimately, establishing better, more targeted therapies for various disease states.



• schizophrenia • dopamine
• hippocampus • neuroscience
• electrophysiology • optogenitcs

Awards & Accomplishments

San Antonio Life Science Institute (SALSI) Postdoctoral Scholar – 2016
William Thomas Booth Memorial Travel Award – 2016
Pharmacology/Neuroscience Award for Academic Excellence – UTHSCSA – 2014
The Armand J. Guarino Award for Academic Excellence – UTHSCSA – 2014
Commencement Speaker – St. John Bosco School – San Antonio, TX. – May, 2014
Center for Biomedical Neuroscience Retreat Post-Doctoral Poster Award – UTHSCSA – May, 2014
Pharmacology Neuroscience Graduate Student of the Year – UTHSCSA – October, 2013
Graduate Student Panel – Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities (HACU) Health Disparities Researcher Information and Training Workshop – UTSA – June, 2013
‘Jennifer Torres Shining Star Award’ – Seton Home – May, 2013
Meeting Panelist, Blueprint Initiative ‘Enhancing Neuroscience Diversity through Undergraduate Research Education Experiences’ (BP-ENDURE) – Society for Neuroscience Annual Meeting – October, 2012
Best Student Poster Presentation – 19th Annual Pharmacology Graduate Student Symposium – October, 2012
Best Poster Presentation – Alamo Chapter Society for Neuroscience 2010 Chapter Retreat – October, 2010

• Appointments, Boards, Committees and Memberships •

Society for Neuroscience (SfN) – 2009-Present
Society for Advancement of Hispanics/Chicanos and Native Americans in Science (SACNAS) – 2013-Present
Schizophrenia International Research Society (SIRS) – 2013-Present

• Grants, Funding and Research Support •

1F31MH098564-01A1 – 03/2013 thru 04/2014 – NIH/NIMH
Restoration of GABAergic function in a Rodent Model of Schizophrenia – The major goals of this project are to examine the effects of GABAergic precursor cell transplants on hippocampal firing rate, dopamine system function, and associated behaviors, in a rodent model of schizophrenia


Perez, SM. and Lodge, DJ. (2014) New approaches to the management of schizophrenia: focus on aberrant hippocampal drive of dopamine pathways. Drug     Design, Development and Therapy 8:887-896

Perez, SM., Carreno, F., Frazer, A. and Lodge, DJ. (2014) Vagal nerve stimulation reverses aberrant dopamine system function in the MAM rodent model of schizophrenia. Journal of Neuroscience 34(28):9261-7
Boley, AM., Perez, SM. and Lodge, DJ. (2014) A fundamental role for hippocampal parvalbumin in the dopamine hyperfunction associated with schizophrenia. Schizophr Res. 157(1-3):238-43
Selected Abstracts
Boley, AM., Perez, SM. and Lodge, DJ. Prefrontal Cortical Interneuron Transplants Reverse Deficits in Reversal Learning in a Rodent Model of Schizophrenia. Program No. 229.21 – 2014 Neuroscience Meeting Planner – Washington, D.C.: Society for Neuroscience, Online
Perez, SM., Carreno, F., Frazer, A. and Lodge DJ. Vagal Nerve Stimulation as a Novel Therapy for the Treatment of Schizophrenia. 4th Biennial Schizophrenia International Research Society Conference Program – Florence, Italy: Schizophrenia International Research Society, 2014
Perez, SM. and Lodge, DJ. Schizophrenia-like phenotype inherited by the F2 generation of a gestational disruption rodent model. Program No. 346.08. – 2013 Neuroscience Meeting Planner – San Diego, CA.: Society for Neuroscience, Online
Perez, SM. and Lodge, DJ. Hippocampal Interneuron Transplants Restore Aberrant Dopamine System Function in a Rodent Model of Schizophrenia. Program No. 435.15. – 2012 Neuroscience Meeting Planner – New Orleans, LA: Society for Neuroscience, Online
Perez, SM., Asher, A. and Lodge, DJ. Ventral Hippocampal Deep Brain Stimulation: A Novel Treatment for Schizophrenia? Program No. 568.28. – 2011 Neuroscience Meeting Planner – Washington, D.C.: Society for Neuroscience, Online