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Personal profile


Dr. Messing received his BA with Honors in History in 1974 and his MD in 1979, both from Stanford University. He trained in Internal Medicine from 1979-1981 at the University of Virginia, and then in Neurology at UCSF from 1981-1984, followed by a postdoctoral fellowship in neuroscience at UCSF from 1984-86 with David A. Greenberg MD, PhD. He became a faculty member in Neurology at UCSF in 1986, and served as a member of the UCSF Neuroscience Graduate Program and a Principle Investigator at the Ernest Gallo Clinic and Research Center, where he became Vice President for Internal Affairs. Dr. Messing was the founding Director of the NIAAA-funded Alcohol Center for Translational Genetics (ACTG) at UCSF from 2008-2013. In 2013 he was recruited to the University of Texas at Austin as the Vice Provost for Biomedical Sciences, the Henry M. Burlage Centennial Professor of Pharmacy, and the Associate Director of the Waggoner Center for Alcohol and Addiction Research. He divides his time between research and assisting in the creation of the new Dell Medical School at UT Austin.

 Dr. Messing is a former chair of the Medical Advisory Council of the Alcoholic Beverage Medical Research Foundation and served on the Board of Directors of the Research Society on Alcoholism (RSA) from 2006-2009 and as RSA President from 2010-2011. He also served as Associate Editor for the Annals of Neurology from 2005-2013, as a member of the Editorial Board of Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research from 1995-1999 and its Advisory Council since 2011, and on the Editorial Board for Addiction Reviews since 2007. From 2002-2008 he was a member of the Board of Scientific Counselors for the NIAAA, and from 2001-2008 served on the Scientific Advisory Board of the Epilepsy Therapy Development Project. He currently is a member of Scientific Advisory Boards for the Portland Alcohol Research Center and for the Integrative Neuroscience Initiative on Alcoholism-West, and a member of the NIAAA Advisory Council. His past awards include the Robert B. Layzer Award for Outstanding Neurology Resident Teaching in 1995, a MERIT Award from the NIAAA (2002-2012), and the Endowed Chair in Neurology in Honor of the Gallo Family awarded in 2004.

Research Interests

Members in the laboratory of Robert O Messing investigate signaling pathways and circuits that regulate behavior in rodent models of addiction, anxiety, and depression. The long-term goal of this work is to identify drug targets for treating neuropsychiatric disorders. We use a variety of biochemical and electrophysiological techniques, which include gene targeting, RNA interference, expression of native and mutant signaling proteins in cell culture systems for biochemical and electrophysiological analysis, functional neuroanatomy using optogenetic and pharmacogenetic tools, and analysis of behavioral phenotypes in mice and rats.

Student Opportunities

Dr Messing is considering serving as a medical student research mentor.

Fingerprint Dive into the research topics where Robert O Messing is active. These topic labels come from the works of this person. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

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Research Output 1983 2020

Promoting activity of (α4)3(β2)2 nicotinic cholinergic receptors reduces ethanol consumption

Wang, J., Blasio, A., Chapman, H. L., Doebelin, C., Liaw, V., Kuryatov, A., Giovanetti, S. M., Lindstrom, J., Lin, L., Cameron, M. D., Kamenecka, T. M., Pomrenze, M. B. & Messing, R. O., Jan 1 2020, In : Neuropsychopharmacology. 45, 2, p. 301-308 8 p.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Nicotinic Receptors
Cholinergic Receptors
Righting Reflex
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

Dissecting the Roles of GABA and Neuropeptides from Rat Central Amygdala CRF Neurons in Anxiety and Fear Learning

Pomrenze, M. B., Giovanetti, S. M., Maiya, R., Gordon, A. G., Kreeger, L. J. & Messing, R. O., Oct 1 2019, In : Cell Reports. 29, 1, p. 13-21.e4

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Open Access
gamma-Aminobutyric Acid
8 Citations (Scopus)

Inactivation of a CRF-dependent amygdalofugal pathway reverses addiction-like behaviors in alcohol-dependent rats

de Guglielmo, G., Kallupi, M., Pomrenze, M. B., Crawford, E., Simpson, S., Schweitzer, P., Koob, G. F., Messing, R. O. & George, O., Dec 1 2019, In : Nature Communications. 10, 1, 1238.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Open Access
Corticotropin-Releasing Hormone

Killing the Buζζ: accumbal PKMζ blunts cocaine seeking and reward

Maiya, R. & Messing, R. O., Feb 1 2019, In : Neuropsychopharmacology. 44, 3, p. 463-464 2 p.

Research output: Contribution to journalComment/debate