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Susan Amara, Ph.D.

Laboratory of Molecular and Cellular Neurobiology (LMCN)

Building 35A Room GE-414
35 Convent Drive MSC3747
Bethesda MD 20892-4395
Office: (301) 496-3501

Dr. Amara is currently the Scientific Director of the Intramural Research Program at the National Institute of Mental Health. Work in her laboratory has focused on the structure, function, and cellular physiology of neurotransmitter transporters, including glutamate transporters as well as the biogenic amine transporters, major targets for psychostimulant drugs and antidepressants. She received a B.S. from Stanford University, a Ph.D. in Physiology and Pharmacology from the University of California, San Diego and has previously held faculty positions at Yale University School of Medicine, at the Vollum Institute in Portland Oregon and as a Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigator at Yale and in Oregon. Prior to moving to NIH she served as the Thomas Detre Chair of Neurobiology and Distinguished Professor at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine. She is a member of the National Academy of Sciences (2004), a fellow of the AAAS (2007) and a past-President of the Society for Neuroscience (2011).

Work in Dr. Amara’s laboratory has examined the impact of psychostimulant and antidepressant drugs on the signaling properties, physiology and acute regulation of biogenic amine transporters. Her group has also addressed the structure, function and physiology of glutamate transporters. This work has demonstrated that transporters can serve dual functions as transporters and as substrate-gated ion channels, revealing additional mechanisms by which carriers regulate neuronal excitability. Dr. Amara’s laboratory continues to investigate:

  1. Regulation of transporter function and trafficking by amphetamines
  2. Structure-function relationships in excitatory amino acid transporters (EAATs)
  3. Modulation of dopamine transporters (DAT) by GPCRs
  4. Genetics and functional analyses of human trace amine receptors
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  • 1) Watts SD, Torres-Salazar D, Divito CB, Amara SG. (2017)
  • Cysteine Transport through Excitatory Amino Acid Transporter 3 (EAAT3)
  • PLoS One, 9(10): e109245 PMID: 25275463.
  • 2) Underhill SM, Wheeler DS, Li M, Watts SD, Ingram SL, Amara SG. (2017)
  • Amphetamine modulates excitatory neurotransmission through endocytosis of the glutamate transporter EAAT3 in dopamine neurons
  • Neuron
  • 3) Divito CB, Underhill SM. (2017)
  • Excitatory amino acid transporters: Roles in glutamatergic neurotransmission
  • Neurochem Int., PMID: 24418112.
  • 4) Garcia-Olivares J, Torres-Salazar D, Owens WA, Baust T, Siderovski DP, Amara SG, Zhu J, Daws LC, Torres GE. (2017)
  • Inhibition of Dopamine transporters activity by G protein Bγ subunits
  • PLoS One, PMID: 23555781.
  • 5) Hong, W.C., and Amara ,S.G. (2017)
  • Differential targeting of the dopamine transporter to recycling or degradative pathways during amphetamine- or PKC-regulated endocytosis in dopamine neurons
  • FASEB J., PMID: 20688912.
View Pubmed Publication