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Dr. Schmitz successfully defended his PhD thesis, “Identifying the Neurological Mechanisms Underlying Potential Therapeutic Effects of Psychedelic Compounds” under the guidance of co-PIs Melissa Herman and Bryan Roth on Feb. 2, 2024.”

Gavin Schmitz, PhD
Gavin Schmitz, PhD

Gavin will be returning to UNC Medical School to complete his medical training, and upon finishing, hopes to go into a residency as a physician-scientist!


Psychedelic compounds directly excite 5-HT2A Layer 5 Pyramidal Neurons in the Prefrontal Cortex through a 5-HT2A Gq -mediated activation mechanism.
Schmitz, GP,  Chiu, Y-T, König, GM, Kostenis, E, Roth, BL, Herman, MA. bioRxiv.  2023 Nov 15:2023. doi: 10.1101/2022.11.15.516655. Preprint

A suite of engineered mice for interrogating psychedelic drug actions.
Chiu YT, Deutch AY, Wang W, Schmitz GP, Huang KL, Kocak DD, Llorach P, Bowyer K, Liu B, Sciaky N, Hua K, Chen C, Mott SE, Niehaus J, DiBerto JF, English J, Walsh JJ, Scherrer G, Herman MA, Wu Z, Wetsel WC, Roth BL. bioRxiv. 2023 Sep 26:2023.09.25.559347. doi: 10.1101/2023.09.25.559347. Preprint. PMID: 37808655. PMCID: PMC10557740.

G protein-coupled receptors as targets for transformative neuropsychiatric therapeutics.
Schmitz GP, Roth BL.Am J Physiol Cell Physiol. 2023 Jul 1;325(1):C17-C28. doi: 10.1152/ajpcell.00397.2022. Epub 2023 Apr 17.PMID: 37067459. PMCID: PMC10281788.

Structures of the entire human opioid receptor family.
Wang Y, Zhuang Y, DiBerto JF, Zhou XE, Schmitz GP, Yuan Q, Jain MK, Liu W, Melcher K, Jiang Y, Roth BL, Xu HE.Cell. 2023 Jan 19;186(2):413-427.e17. doi: 10.1016/j.cell.2022.12.026. Epub 2023 Jan 12.PMID: 36638794. PMCID: 36638794.

5-HT2A SNPs Alter the Pharmacological Signaling of Potentially Therapeutic Psychedelics.
Schmitz GP, Jain MK, Slocum ST, Roth BL.ACS Chem Neurosci. 2022 Aug 17;13(16):2386-2398. doi: 10.1021/acschemneuro.1c00815. Epub 2022 Jul 27.PMID: 35894503.

Ventral tegmental area GABAergic inhibition of cholinergic interneurons in the ventral nucleus accumbens shell promotes reward reinforcement.
Al-Hasani R, Gowrishankar R, Schmitz GP, Pedersen CE, Marcus DJ, Shirley SE, Hobbs TE, Elerding AJ, Renaud SJ, Jing M, Li Y, Alvarez VA, Lemos JC, Bruchas MR.Nat Neurosci. 2021 Oct;24(10):1414-1428. doi: 10.1038/s41593-021-00898-2. Epub 2021 Aug 12. PMID: 34385700. PMCID: PMC8823543.

In vivo detection of optically-evoked opioid peptide release.
Al-Hasani R, Wong JT, Mabrouk OS, McCall JG, Schmitz GP, Porter-Stransky KA, Aragona BJ, Kennedy RT, Bruchas MR.Elife. 2018 Sep 3;7:e36520. doi: 10.7554/eLife.36520.PMID: 30175957. PMCID: PMC6135606.

Distinct Subpopulations of Nucleus Accumbens Dynorphin Neurons Drive Aversion and Reward.
Al-Hasani R, McCall JG, Shin G, Gomez AM, Schmitz GP, Bernardi JM, Pyo CO, Park SI, Marcinkiewcz CM, Crowley NA, Krashes MJ, Lowell BB, Kash TL, Rogers JA, Bruchas MR.Neuron. 2015 Sep 2;87(5):1063-77. doi: 10.1016/j.neuron.2015.08.019.PMID: 26335648 . PMCID: PMC4625385.

Wireless Optofluidic Systems for Programmable In Vivo Pharmacology and Optogenetics.
Jeong JW, McCall JG, Shin G, Zhang Y, Al-Hasani R, Kim M, Li S, Sim JY, Jang KI, Shi Y, Hong DY, Liu Y, Schmitz GP, Xia L, He Z, Gamble P, Ray WZ, Huang Y, Bruchas MR, Rogers JA.Cell. 2015 Jul 30;162(3):662-74. doi: 10.1016/j.cell.2015.06.058. Epub 2015 Jul 16.PMID: 26189679. PMCID: PMC4525768.

Honors, Awards & Highlights

2023 Pharmacology Student Scholar Award

2022 Pharmacology Annual Retreat Best Oral Presentation Award

Pics from Gavin’s PhD defense and party

We wish you all the best, Gavin!