John Andrews Distinguished Professor of Psychiatry and Pharmacology
Associate Director, Bowles Center for Alcohol Studies
UNC Hospitals – Chapel Hill
Education and Training:
B.S., Psychobiology, University of California, Davis
Ph.D., Neuroscience, University of California, San Diego
Post Doctoral Fellowship, Molecular Neuropharmacology, National Institute of Mental Health
Dr. Morrow’s work is primarily focused on laboratory research efforts to elucidate the etiology of alcohol dependence and the neurobiology of neuroactive steroids in mental health. To accomplish these goals her laboratory has several funded research programs concerning the molecular mechanisms of ethanol tolerance and dependence and others concerning the role of endogenous neuroactive steroids in ethanol action, tolerance and drinking behavior. A component of “Mechanisms of Dependence Pathogenesis” (1-P50-AA11605) is Dr. Morrow’s study titled “Molecular and Cellular Pathogenesis in Alcoholism”. This work identified alterations in gene expression and receptor surface expression that are associated with alterations in GABAA receptor function induced by chronic ethanol exposure. It established cause and effect relationships between cellular and behavioral adaptations using gene knock-out approaches. Recent studies identified the cellular mechanisms that are responsible for ethanol-induced alterations in GABAA receptors, including dependence on protein kinase Cg and modulation by protein kinase A. These studies elucidate a potential therapeutic target for alcohol dependence. Stress, Alcohol and GABAergic Neuroactive Steroids (U01 AA016672) is part of the Integrative Neuroscience Initiative on Alcoholism. Morrow’s group is investigating neuroactive steroid mechanisms that link stress, anxiety and excessive alcohol intake in mouse and primate models. A quantitative trait loci was identified that determines deoxycorticosterone levels in mouse brain and networks of genes that are regulated by this steroid have been identified. We are currently investigating the role of neuronal and extracellular neuroactive steroids in adaptations to chronic ethanol exposure.