Veronica Alicia Alvarez, Ph.D.

Senior Investigator

Laboratory for Integrative Neuroscience; Section on Neuronal Structure


5625 Fishers Lane
Room TS-24, MSC 9411
Bethesda, MD 20892


Research Topics

Research in the Alvarez laboratory is focused on understanding the effects of drugs of abuse on synapses and neuronal connectivity with the purpose of revealing the cellular mechanisms that control reward-motivated behaviors and compulsive drug seeking. The studies focus on cocaine and ethanol, two prominent drugs of abuse in the US. Researchers in the laboratory of Dr. Alvarez apply multiple techniques ranging from approaches at the cellular and synaptic level to behavioral analysis and in vivo manipulations in wild-type and genetically-engineered mouse models.


Dr. Alvarez earned a Ph.D. degree in Neuroscience in 1997 from University of Buenos Aires, Argentina. She trained as a postdoctoral fellow with Dr. John Williams at the Vollum Institute, OHSU from 1998 to 2001 studying the firing properties of locus coerulues neurons and its modulation by opioids. She then trained with Dr. Bernardo Sabatini at Harvard Medical School from 2001-2007 where she studied mechanisms of functional and morphological plasticity at glutamatergic synapses using electrophysiology and two-photon imaging. In 2008, she established an independent research program at NIAAA where she is investigator and acting chief of the Section on Neuronal Structure.

Selected Publications

  1. Holroyd KB, Adrover MF, Fuino RL, Bock R, Kaplan AR, Gremel CM, Rubinstein M, Alvarez VA. Loss of feedback inhibition via D2 autoreceptors enhances acquisition of cocaine taking and reactivity to drug-paired cues. Neuropsychopharmacology. 2015;40(6):1495-509.

  2. Bello EP, Mateo Y, Gelman DM, Noaín D, Shin JH, Low MJ, Alvarez VA, Lovinger DM, Rubinstein M. Cocaine supersensitivity and enhanced motivation for reward in mice lacking dopamine D2 autoreceptors. Nat Neurosci. 2011;14(8):1033-8.

  3. Dobi A, Seabold GK, Christensen CH, Bock R, Alvarez VA. Cocaine-induced plasticity in the nucleus accumbens is cell specific and develops without prolonged withdrawal. J Neurosci. 2011;31(5):1895-904.

  4. Shin JH, Adrover MF, Wess J, Alvarez VA. Muscarinic regulation of dopamine and glutamate transmission in the nucleus accumbens. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2015;112(26):8124-9.

Related Scientific Focus Areas

This page was last updated on July 17th, 2017