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Susan G. Amara, Ph.D. - Scientific Director, Intramural Research Program

Photo of Dr. Susan Amara, Ph.D.

In January 2013, Dr. Amara joined the IRP as the NIMH Scientific Director. She received her B.S. in Biological Sciences from Stanford University, and her Ph.D. in Physiology and Pharmacology from the University of California, San Diego. Before arriving at the NIMH, Dr. Amara held faculty positions at Yale University School of Medicine and the Vollum Institute in Portland Oregon, and was a Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigator at each of these institutions. Most recently, she was the Thomas Detre Professor of Neurobiology and Distinguished Professor at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine.

Recent 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 will continue this research in her new lab – the Laboratory of Molecular and Cellular Neurobiology in the Section on Molecular and Cellular Signaling – at the NIMH.

From 1992-2013, Dr. Amara served continuously as a member of NIH review and advisory panels: on study section and as study section Chair on the National Advisory Council for the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), on the Board of Scientific Counselors for NIDA, and on the Board of Scientific Counselors for the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA). She has served as a Councilor and Treasurer of the Society for Neuroscience, as Secretary-Treasurer of ASPET, and as President of the Society for Neuroscience (2010-11). She serves as Associate Editor for the Annual Review of Pharmacology and Toxicology and is on the editorial boards of several journals, including the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. In addition, she is an elected member of the National Academy of Sciences (2004) and a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) (2007). In her personal capacity, Dr. Amara currently serves as President-Elect of the AAAS (2020).

Dr. Amara has received numerous accolades throughout her career. She is a recipient of the George Herbert Hitchings Award for innovative methods in drug discovery from the Burroughs Wellcome Fund, the Young Investigator Award from the Society for Neuroscience, the John Jacob Abel Young Investigator Award from the American Society of Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics (ASPET), a McKnight Neuroscience Investigator Award, a MERIT Award from NIDA, a NARSAD Distinguished Investigator Award, the Julius Axelrod Award from ASPET, the Chancellor’s Research Award from University of Pittsburgh, and the Julius Axelrod Prize from the Society for Neuroscience. In addition, she has had twenty U.S. patents issued on technology from her laboratory.


Office of the Scientific Director
35A Convent Drive, Suite GE402