Anna Lee, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor, Department of Pharmacology


Research Interests:

The goal of my research is to elucidate the molecular basis of behavior. My lab studies the molecular mechanisms of addiction and the role of nicotinic acetylcholine receptors in affective disorders.  We use genetic, molecular, pharmacological and behavioral tools in mouse models of drug addiction and depression.

We focus on the nicotinic acetylcholine receptors (nAChRs), which are widely expressed ligand-gated ion channels that modulate neurotransmission. nAChRs are found on many different types of neurons in the brain and are implicated in addiction, anxiety and depression.  Our goal is to identify how regulation of nAChRs affects receptor function and behavior.  Our main research focus is co-morbid alcohol and nicotine addiction.  Alcohol and nicotine are two commonly used drugs, and addiction to both drugs is very prevalent.  Alcohol and nicotine addiction have overlapping molecular mechanisms, and identifying these mechanisms will enable us to understand why these drugs are co-abused and to identify new molecular targets for treatment.

Selected Publications:

(For a comprehensive list of recent publications, refer to PubMed, a service provided by the National Library of Medicine.)

  • DeBaker MC, Robinson JM, Moen JK, Wickman K, Lee AM. Differential patterns of alcohol and nicotine intake: Combined alcohol and nicotine binge consumption behaviors in mice. Alcohol. 2019 Sep 23. pii: S0741-8329(19)30113-2.
  • Touchette JC, Maertens JJ, Mason MM, O'Rourke KY, Lee AM.  The nicotinic receptor drug sazetidine-A reduces alcohol consumption in mice without affecting concurrent nicotine consumption.  Neuropharmacology. 2018 May 1;133:63-74.  PMID: 29355641
  • Eum S, Schneiderhan ME, Brown JT, Lee AM, Bishop JR. Pharmacogenetic evaluation to assess breakthrough psychosis with aripiprazole long-acting injection: a case report. BMC Psychiatry. 2017 Jul 3;17(1):238.
  • Touchette JC, Lee AM. Assessing alcohol and nicotine co-consumption in mice. Oncotarget. 2017;8:5684-5685.
  • O'Rourke KY, Touchette JC, Hartell EC, Bade EJ, Lee AM. Voluntary co-consumption of alcohol and nicotine: Effects of abstinence, intermittency, and withdrawal in mice. Neuropharmacology. 2016;109:236-246.
  • Eum S, Lee AM, Bishop JR. Pharmacogenetic tests for antipsychotic medications: clinical implications and considerations. Dialogues Clin Neurosci. 2016;18:323-337.
  • Lee AM, Wu D-F, Dadgar J, Wang D, McMahon T, Messing RO. Protein kinase C epsilon phosphorylates α4β2 nicotinic acetylcholine receptors and promotes recovery from desensitization. Br J Pharmacol. 2015;172:430-441.
  • Lee AM, Zou ME, Lim JP, Stecher J, McMahon T, Messing RO. Deletion of Prkcz increases intermittent ethanol consumption in mice. Alcohol Clin Exp Res. 2014;38:170-8.
  • Lee AM, Kanter BR, Wang D, Lim JP, Zou ME, Qiu C, McMahon T, Dadgar J, Fischbach-Weiss SC, Messing RO.  Prkcz null mice show normal learning and memory. Nature. 2013;493:416-419.  

Current Graduate Students:

Sarah Mulloy (Neuroscience, University of Minnesota).

Margot DeBaker (Neuroscience, University of Minnesota)

Janna Moen (Neuroscience, University of Minnesota)

Anna Lee