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Principal Investigator

Biography

Dr. Amara is currently the Scientific Director of the Intramural Research Program at the National Institute of Mental Health. Work in her laboratory has focused on the structure, function, and cellular physiology of neurotransmitter transporters, including glutamate transporters as well as the biogenic amine transporters, major targets for psychostimulant drugs and antidepressants. She received a BS from Stanford University, a PhD in Physiology and Pharmacology from the University of California, San Diego and has previously held faculty positions at Yale University School of Medicine, at the Vollum Institute in Portland Oregon and as a Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigator at Yale and in Oregon. Prior to moving to NIH she served as the Thomas Detre Chair of Neurobiology and Distinguished Professor at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine. She is a member of the National Academy of Sciences (2004), a fellow of the AAAS (2007) and a past-President of the Society for Neuroscience (2011).

Research Interests

Work in Dr. Amara’s laboratory has examined the impact of psychostimulant and antidepressant drugs on the signaling properties, physiology and acute regulation of biogenic amine transporters. Her group has also addressed the structure, function and physiology of glutamate transporters. This work has demonstrated that transporters can serve dual functions as transporters and as substrate-gated ion channels, revealing additional mechanisms by which carriers regulate neuronal excitability. Dr. Amara’s laboratory continues to investigate:

  1. Regulation of transporter function and trafficking by amphetamines
  2. Structure-function relationships in excitatory amino acid transporters (EAATs)
  3. Modulation of dopamine transporters (DAT) by GPCRs
  4. Genetics and functional analyses of human trace amine receptors

Selected Publications

Li MH, Underhill SM, Reed C, Phillips TJ, Amara SG, Ingram SL (2017). Amphetamine and Methamphetamine Increase NMDAR-GluN2B Synaptic Currents in Midbrain Dopamine Neurons. Neuropsychopharmacology 42, 1539-1547. https://doi.org/10.1038/npp.2016.278. [Pubmed Link]

Underhill SM, Hullihen PD, Chen J, Fenollar-Ferrer C, Rizzo MA, Ingram SL, Amara SG (2019) Amphetamines signal through intracellular TAAR1 receptors coupled to Gα13 and GαS in discrete subcellular domains. Mol Psychiatry, in press (e-pub ahead of print) https://doi.org/10.1038/s41380-019-0469-2. [Pubmed Link]

Bäck S, Necarsulmer J, Whitaker LR, Coke LM, Koivula P, Heathward EJ, Fortuno LV, Zhang Y, Yeh CG, Baldwin HA, Spencer MD, Mejias-Aponte CA, Pickel J, Hoffman AF, Spivak CE, Lupica CR, Underhill SM, Amara SG, Domanskyi A, Anttila JE, Airavaara M, Hope BT, Hamra FK, Richie CT, Harvey BK (2019). Neuron-Specific Genome Modification in the Adult Rat Brain Using CRISPR-Cas9 Transgenic Rats. Neuron 102, 105-119.e8. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.neuron.2019.01.035. [Pubmed Link]

Underhill SM, Ingram SL, Ahmari SE, Veenstra-VanderWeele J, Amara SG (2019). Neuronal excitatory amino acid transporter EAAT3: Emerging functions in health and disease. Neurochem Int 123, 69-76. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.neuint.2018.05.012. [Pubmed Link]

Mauna JC, Harris SS, Pino JA, Edwards CM, DeChellis-Marks MR, Bassi CD, Garcia-Olivares J, Amara SG, Guajardo FG, Sotomayor-Zarate R, Terminel M, Castañeda E, Vergara M, Baust T, Thiels E, Torres GE (2019). G protein βγ subunits play a critical role in the actions of amphetamine. Transl Psychiatry 9, 81. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41398-019-0387-8. [Pubmed Link]


Building 35A, Room GE414, MSC 3747
BETHESDA, MD 20892

Phone: +1 301 496 3501

susan.amara@nih.gov