Montserrat Navarro, Ph.D.

Research Professor

Office | Davie Hall, CB# 3270
Email |


B.S. Psychology, University of Almería (Spain)
M.S. Neuroscience, International University of Andalucía (Spain)
M.S. Psychology, University of Almería (Spain)
PhD. Psychology, University of Almeria (Spain)

Research Professor

My research focuses on identifying the brain mechanisms that modulate neurobiological responses to alcohol. I am interested in understanding how brain neurocircuitry changes after ethanol exposure and how these changes can contribute to the transition from alcohol used to alcohol abuse. I am particularly interested in the roles of neuropeptides on ethanol consumption and how these neuropeptides can be affected by ethanol exposure. Another research approach is to identify the neural mechanisms that modulate the aversive reaction to ethanol and their role in modulating ethanol consumption, with special interest in the brainstem.

My research involves a diverse set of techniques including drinking in the dark (DID) procedures to model binge drinking in mice, operant self-administration procedures, measures of anxiety-like behavior, immunohistochemistry, immunofluorescence, Western Blotting, Cre-inducible chemogenetic tools, Cre-Flox technology and site-direct brain cannulation and viral-vector infusions.


2017-2022        Co-Investigator, National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism Center Grant (P60AA011605) Titled: Molecular and Circuit Pathogenesis of Alcohol Addiction. Component 5: Probing Cortical-Nigra Dynophinergic Circuits in Alcohol Abuse.

2018-2023        Co-Principal Investigator, National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism Research Grant (R01-AA025809): The role of norepinephrine in binge alcohol drinking and taste aversion.

For more information:

Recent Publications

Activation of locus coeruleus to rostromedial tegmental nucleus (RMTg) noradrenergic pathway blunts binge-like ethanol drinking and induces aversive responses in mice. Dornellas APS, Burnham NW, Luhn KL, Petruzzi MV, Thiele TE, Navarro M. Neuropharmacology. 2021 Nov 1;199:108797. doi: 10.1016/j.neuropharm.2021.108797. Epub 2021 Sep 20.PMID: 34547331

Lateral hypothalamus-projecting noradrenergic locus coeruleus pathway modulates binge-like ethanol drinking in male and female TH-ires-cre mice. Burnham NW, Chaimowitz CN, Vis CC, Segantine Dornellas AP, Navarro M, Thiele TE. Neuropharmacology. 2021 Sep 15;196:108702. doi: 10.1016/j.neuropharm.2021.108702. Epub 2021 Jul 8.PMID: 3424668

Distinct and Overlapping Patterns of Acute Ethanol-Induced C-Fos Activation in Two Inbred Replicate Lines of Mice Selected for Drinking to High Blood Ethanol Concentrations. Robinson SL, Dornellas APS, Burnham NW, Houck CA, Luhn KL, Bendrath SC, Companion MA, Brewton HW, Thomas RD, Navarro M, Thiele TE. Brain Sci. 2020 Dec 15;10(12):988. doi: 10.3390/brainsci10120988.PMID: 33333877

The melanocortin system as a potential target for treating alcohol use disorders: A review of pre-clinical data. Lerma-Cabrera JM, Carvajal F, Garbutt JC, Navarro M, Thiele TE. Brain Res. 2020 Mar 1;1730:146628. doi: 10.1016/j.brainres.2019.146628. Epub 2019 Dec 28.PMID: 31891691

The kappa opioid receptor modulates GABA neuron excitability and synaptic transmission in midbrainprojections from the insular cortex. Pina MM, Pati D, Hwa LS, Wu SY, Mahoney AA, Omenyi CG, Navarro M, Kash TL. Neuropharmacology. 2020 Mar 15;165:107831. doi: 10.1016/j.neuropharm.2019.107831. Epub 2019 Dec 21.PMID: 31870854

A Preliminary, Open-Label Study of Naltrexone and Bupropion Combination Therapy for Treating Binge Drinking in Human Subjects. Walter TJ, Navarro M, Thiele TE, Pedersen C, Kampov-Polevoy A, Garbutt JC. Alcohol Alcohol. 2020 Feb 7;55(1):56-62. doi: 10.1093/alcalc/agz076.PMID: 31746964

Bupropion, Alone and in Combination with Naltrexone, Blunts Binge-Like Ethanol Drinking and Intake Following Chronic Intermittent Access to Ethanol in Male C57BL/6J Mice. Navarro M, Luhn KL, Kampov-Polevoy AB, Garbutt JC, Thiele TE.  Alcohol Clin Exp Res. 2019 May;43(5):783-790. doi: 10.1111/acer.13992. Epub 2019 Mar 19.PMID: 30817015