Patrick Rothwell

Ph.D. 2010

Thesis Title:

Behavioral and Neurobiological Consequences of Intermittent Exposure to
Addictive Drugs

Current Position:

Assistant Professor, Department of Neuroscience, University of Minnesota

Undergraduate Institution and Major/Degree:

Univ. of Wisconsin - Madison, BS, Neurobiology and Psychology, 2004

Major Advisor(s):

Mark Thomas, Ph.D.

Research Description:

The adaptations in brain function that result from drug use and lead to addiction depend on the pattern of drug administration – specifically, whether a drug is administered continuously or intermittently. Because human drug abuse is inherently intermittent, particularly in its early stages, we are interested in understanding the unique effects of intermittent drug exposure in rodents. We have focused on the contribution of events that occur during drug offset (i.e., acute withdrawal), and developed a model of anxiety-like behavior (an increase in the magnitude of the acoustic startle reflex) during acute withdrawal. Our experiments suggest recurrent episodes of acute withdrawal may play a role in the development of psychomotor sensitization, a lasting enhancement of drug sensitivity that is most robust after intermittent drug exposure. We also use brain slice physiology to study cellular adaptations in the nucleus accumbens that may contribute to enhancements of drug sensitivity caused by previous drug exposure or stressful experience.

Lab Rotations:

  • Jonathan Gewirtz
  • Mark Thomas
  • David Redish

Courses Taken Beyond the Core Courses:

  • Psychology 8060 - Neural substrates of mental processes
  • Psychology 8960 - Graduate seminar in psychology: synaptic plasticity in addiction
  • Psychology 5012: Learning & Cognition in Animals
  • Statistics 5303: Designing Experiments
  • Pharmacology 5462: Neuroscience Principles of Drug Abuse

Graduate Level Minor(s):

  • Psychology
  • Statistics

Conferences Attended:

  • Society for Neuroscience annual meeting - 2004-2008
  • Society for Psychophysiological Research annual meeting - 2003, 2004
  • Research Society on Alcoholism annual meeting: 2004
  • Cellular Biology of Addiction, Cold Spring Harbor: 2007
  • Forum of European Neuroscience: 2006

Committee Members:

  • Mark Thomas (advisor)
  • Paul Mermelstein (chair)
  • Jonathan Gewirtz
  • William Engeland

Selected Publications:

  • Lim BK, Huang KW, Grueter BA, Rothwell PE, Malenka RC. Anhedonia requires MC4R-mediated synaptic adaptations in nucleus accumbens. Nature 2012;487:183-189.
  • Grueter BA, Rothwell PE, Malenka RC. Integrating synaptic plasticity and striatal circuit function in addiction. Curr Opin Neurobiol. 2012;22(3):545-51
  • Rothwell PE, Thomas MJ, Gewirtz JC. Protracted manifestations of acute dependence after a single morphine exposure. Psychopharmacology 2012;219:991-998.
  • Rothwell PE, Kourrich S, Thomas MJ. Environmental novelty causes stress-like adaptations at nucleus accumbens synapses: Implications for studying addiction-related plasticity. Neuropharmacology 2011;61:1152-1159.
  • Radke AK, Rothwell PE, Gewirtz JC. An anatomical basis for opponent process mechanisms of opiate withdrawal. J Neurosci. 2011;31(20):7533-9
  • Rothwell PE, Kourrich S, Thomas M. Synaptic adaptations in the nucleus accumbens caused by experiences linked to relapse. Biol Psychiatry. 2011;69:1124-1126
  • Rothwell PE, Gewirtz JC, Thomas MJ. Episodic withdrawal promotes psychomotor sensitization to morphine. Neuropsychopharmacology. 2010;35(13):2579-2589.
  • Rothwell PE. Parsing spontaneous and evoked neurotransmission on both sides of the synapse. J Neurosci. 2010;30(19):6480-6481.
  • Overland AC, Kitto KF, Chabot-Dore A-J, Rothwell PE, Fairbanks CA, Stone LS, Wilcox GL. Protein kinase C mediates the synergistic interaction between agonists acting at alpha-2-adrenergic and delta-opioid receptors in spinal cord. J Neurosci. 2009;29(42):13264-13273
  • Rothwell PE, Thomas MJ, Gewirtz JC. Distinct profiles of anxiety and dysphoria during spontaneous withdrawal from acute morphine exposure. Neuropsychopharmacology. 2009;34:2285-95.
  • Harris AC, Rothwell PE, Gewirtz JC.Effects of the NMDA receptor antagonist memantine on the expression and development of acute opiate dependence as assessed by withdrawal-potentiated startle and hyperalgesia. Psychopharmacology (Berl). 2008;196(4):649-60.
  • Kourrich S, Rothwell PE, Klug JR, Thomas MJ. Cocaine experience controls bidirectional synaptic plasticity in the nucleus accumbens. J Neurosci. 2007;27(30):7921-8.

Awards and Honors:

  • Graduate School Fellowship, University of Minnesota, 2004-2005
  • Smithberg Memorial Prize, Graduate Program in Neuroscience, University of Minnesota, 2005
  • Travel Award for the Forum of European Neuroscience, Society for Neuroscience, 2006
  • NIDA Training Grant Predoctoral Fellowship, University of Minnesota, 2005-2008
  • National Research Service Award (F31), National Institute on Drug Abuse, 2008-2010
  • Richard Poppele Award, 2008
  • Stark Award, 2007

Professional Memberships:

  • Society for Neuroscience

Home Town:

  • Rochester, MN
Patrick Rothwell