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Senior Investigator

Antonello Bonci, M.D.

Scientific Director, NIDA

Synaptic Plasticity Section
Room 04A521
251 Bayview Boulevard Suite 200
Baltimore MD 21224
Office: (443) 740-2463
Lab: (443) 740-2463

boncia@mail.nih.gov

Dr. Antonello Bonci is the Scientific Director for the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) and the Chief of the Synaptic Plasticity Section. He completed his post-doctoral residency at the University of California, San Francisco in the Department of Neurology and earned his M.D. at the Sacred Heart School of Medicine in Rome, Italy.



Chronic exposure to drugs of abuse causes several cellular and behavioral adaptations such as tolerance, dependence, and sensitization. The main goal of Dr. Bonci’s laboratory is to understand the synaptic properties of neurons in brain areas relevant to drug addiction such as the ventral tegmental area (VTA), the nucleus accumbens (NAcc), and the prefrontal cortex (PFC). The laboratory was the first to demonstrate that drugs of abuse such as cocaine produce a form of synaptic plasticity called long-term potentiation (LTP). The aim of the research is to apply electrophysiological, optogenetic, molecular, and behavioral approaches to elucidate the long-term effects that are produced by chronic administration of drugs of abuse such as cocaine and alcohol. Understanding the basic mechanisms at the synaptic level that underlie the long-term effects of these drugs will likely open new avenues for therapeutic strategies against the many symptoms of substance use disorders.

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  • 1) Pignatelli M, Umanah G, Riberio SP, Chen R, Yau HJ, Dawson VL, Dawson TM, Bonci A (2017)
  • Plasticity onto Dopamine Neurons Shapes Fear Learning
  • Neuron, 2017 Jan 18;93(2):425-440, PubMed PMID: 28103482
  • 2) Edwards, NJ, Tejeda HA, Pignatelli M, Zhang S, McDevitt RA, Wu J, Bass CE, Bettler B, Morales M, Bonci A. (2017)
  • Circuit specificity in the inhibitory architecture of the VTA regulates cocaine-induced behavior
  • Nat Neurosci, 2017 Jan 23. doi: 10.1038/nn.4482, [Epub ahead of print] PubMed PMID: 28114294
  • 3) Tejeda HA, Wu J, Kornspun A, Pignatelli M, Kashtelyan V, Krashes MJ, Lowell BB, Carlezon WA, Bonci A. (2017)
  • Pathway- and Cell-Specific Kappa-Opioid Receptor Modulation of Excitation-Inhibition Balance Differentially Gates D1 and D2 Accumbens Neuron Activity
  • Neuron, Jan 4;93(1), 147-163. PubMed PMID: 28056342
  • 4) Yau HJ, Wang DV, Tsou JH, Chuang YF, Chen BT, Deisseroth K, Ikemoto S, Bonci A (2016)
  • Pontomesencephalic Tegmental Afferents to VTA Non-dopamine Neurons Are Necessary for Appetitive Pavlovian Learning
  • Cell Rep, 2016 Sep 6;16(10):2699-710, doi: 10.1016/j.celrep.2016.08.007. Epub 2016 Aug 2
  • 5) Terraneo A, Leggio L, Saladini M, Ermani M, Bonci A*, Gallimberti L. (2016)
  • Transcranial magnetic stimulation of dorsolateral prefrontal cortex reduces cocaine use: A pilot study
  • Eur Neuropsychopharmacol, Jan;26(1):37-44. doi: 10.1016/j.euroneuro.2015.11., Epub 2015 Dec 4. PubMed PMID: 26655188. *Correspon
  • 6) Pignatelli M, Bonci A (2015)
  • Role of Dopamine Neurons in Reward and Aversion: A Synaptic Plasticity Perspective
  • Neuron, 2015 Jun 3;86(5):1145-57. doi: 10.1016/j.neuron.20, Review. PubMed PMID: 26050034
  • 7) Britt JP, Bonci A (2013)
  • Alcohol and tobacco: how smoking may promote excessive drinking
  • Neuron, . 2013 Aug 7;79(3):406-7. doi: 10.1016/j.neuron.20, . PubMed PMID: 23931990; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC
  • 8) Chen BT, Yau HJ, Hatch C, Kusumoto-Yoshida I, Cho SL, Hopf FW, Bonci A. (2013)
  • Rescuing cocaine-induced prefrontal cortex hypoactivity prevents compulsive cocaine seeking
  • Nature, 2013 Apr 18;496(7445):359-62, doi: 10.1038/nature12024. Epub 2013 Apr 3. PubMed
  • 9) Kourrich S, Hayashi T, Chuang JY, Tsai SY, Su TP, Bonci A (2013)
  • Dynamic interaction between sigma-1 receptor and Kv1.2 shapes neuronal and behavioral responses to cocaine
  • Cell, 2013 Jan 17;152(1-2):236-47. doi: 10.1016/j.cell.2, PubMed PMID: 23332758; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC41
  • 10) Takahashi YK, Chang CY, Lucantonio F, Haney RZ, Berg BA, Yau HJ, Bonci A, Schoenbaum G (2013)
  • Neural estimates of imagined outcomes in the orbitofrontal cortex drive behavior and learning
  • Neuron, 2013 Oct 16;80(2):507-18, doi: 10.1016/j.neuron.2013.08.008. PubMed PMID: 24
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