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 (2012). Anhedonia requires MC4R-mediated synaptic adaptations in nucleus accumbens. Nature 487, 183-189 [PubMed ID: 22785313]
  • Grueter BA, Rothwell PE & Malenka RC (2012). Integrating synaptic plasticity and striatal circuit function in addiction. Current Opinion in Neurobiology 22, 545-551 [PubMed ID: 22000687]
  • Rothwell PE, Thomas MJ & Gewirtz JC (2012). Protracted manifestations of acute dependence after a single morphine exposure. Psychopharmacology 219, 991-998 [PubMed ID: 21833504]
  • Rothwell PE, Kourrich S & Thomas MJ (2011). Environmental novelty causes stress-like adaptations at nucleus accumbens synapses: Implications for studying addiction-related plasticity. Neuropharmacology 61, 1152-1159 [PubMed ID: 21315090]
  • Radke AK, Rothwell PE & Gewirtz JC (2011). An anatomical basis for opponent process mechanisms of opiate withdrawal. Journal of Neuroscience 31, 7533-7539. [PubMed ID: 21593338]
  • Rothwell PE, Kourrich S & Thomas MJ (2011). Synaptic adaptations in the nucleus accumbens caused by experiences linked to relapse. Biological Psychiatry 69, 1124-1126 [PubMed ID: 21329910]
  • Rothwell PE, Gewirtz JC & Thomas MJ (2010). Episodic withdrawal promotes psychomotor sensitization to morphine. Neuropsychopharmacology 35, 2579-2589. [PubMed ID: 20811341]
  • Rothwell PE (2010). Parsing spontaneous and evoked neurotransmission on both sides of the synapse. Journal of Neuroscience 30, 6480-6481. [PubMed ID: 20463211]
  • Overland AC, Kitto KF, Chabot-Dore A-J, Rothwell PE, Fairbanks CA, Stone LS & Wilcox GL (2009). Protein kinase C mediates the synergistic interaction between agonists acting at alpha-2-adrenergic and delta-opioid receptors in spinal cord. Journal of Neuroscience 29, 13264-13273. [PubMed ID: 19846714]
  • Rothwell PE, Thomas MJ & Gewirtz JC (2009). Distinct profiles of anxiety and dysphoria during spontaneous withdrawal from acute morphine exposure. Neuropsychopharmacology 34, 2285-2295. [PubMed ID: 19494807]

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