Hitoshi Morikawa, MD, PhD

Associate Professor

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Personal profile


After obtaining an M.D. from Kyoto University in Japan and completing his clinical training in anesthesiology, Hitoshi Morikawa became interested in basic research. His graduate work focused on morphine and other opiates as analgesic drugs, more specifically on the cellular mechanism of tolerance after prolonged treatment with opiates. After obtaining a Ph.D. in 1999, Morikawa joined John Williams’ lab as a postdoctoral fellow at the Vollum Institute in Portland, Oregon, with a naive intention to define the brain circuit involved in the euphoric action of drugs of abuse.

Morikawa joined the faculty in the Department of Neuroscience and Waggoner Center for Alcohol & Addiction Research at The University of Texas at Austin in 2002. His current research focuses on synaptic plasticity and neuroadaptations that drive reward-based conditioning and the development of addictive behaviors.

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  • 1 Similar Profiles
Dopaminergic Neurons Medicine & Life Sciences
Ventral Tegmental Area Medicine & Life Sciences
Neuronal Plasticity Medicine & Life Sciences
Ethanol Medicine & Life Sciences
Opioid Receptors Medicine & Life Sciences
Mesencephalon Medicine & Life Sciences
Cricetulus Medicine & Life Sciences
Inositol 1,4,5-Trisphosphate Medicine & Life Sciences

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Research Output 1994 2019

5 Citations (Scopus)

A corticotropin releasing factor network in the extended amygdala for anxiety

Pomrenze, M. B., Tovar-Diaz, J., Blasio, A., Maiya, R., Giovanetti, S. M., Lei, K., Morikawa, H., Woodward Hopf, F. & Messing, R. O., Feb 2019, In : Journal of Neuroscience. 39, 6, p. 1030-1043 14 p.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Corticotropin-Releasing Hormone
Septal Nuclei
6 Citations (Scopus)

Cooperative CRF and α1 Adrenergic Signaling in the VTA Promotes NMDA Plasticity and Drives Social Stress Enhancement of Cocaine Conditioning

Tovar-Díaz, J., Pomrenze, M. B., Kan, R., Pahlavan, B. & Morikawa, H., Mar 6 2018, In : Cell Reports. 22, 10, p. 2756-2766 11 p.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Ventral Tegmental Area
Corticotropin-Releasing Hormone
Adrenergic Agents
16 Citations (Scopus)

The Evolving Understanding of Dopamine Neurons in the Substantia Nigra and Ventral Tegmental Area

Gantz, S. C., Ford, C. P., Morikawa, H. & Williams, J. T., Feb 10 2018, In : Annual Review of Physiology. 80, p. 219-241 23 p.

Research output: Contribution to journalReview article

Ventral Tegmental Area
Dopaminergic Neurons
Substantia Nigra
6 Citations (Scopus)

Junk food diet-induced obesity increases D2 receptor autoinhibition in the ventral tegmental area and reduces ethanol drinking

Cook, J. B., Hendrickson, L. M., Garwood, G. M., Toungate, K. M., Nania, C. V. & Morikawa, H., Aug 2017, In : PloS one. 12, 8, e0183685.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Ventral Tegmental Area
11 Citations (Scopus)

Mechanistic insights into epigenetic modulation of ethanol consumption

Ponomarev, I., Stelly, C. E., Morikawa, H., Blednov, Y. A., Mayfield, R. D. & Harris, R. A., May 1 2017, In : Alcohol. 60, p. 95-101 7 p.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Ventral Tegmental Area