Carrie Ferrario, Ph.D.

Michigan Neuroscience Institute Affiliate
Associate Professor of Pharmacology
Adjunct Associate Professor of Psychology

Medical Science Building II
1137 Catherine St.
Room 4742D/Office 
Room 4741/Lab
Ann Arbor, MI 48109



Carrie Ferrario is an Associate Professor with tenure in the Departments of Pharmacology and Psychology at the University of Michigan. Her lab examines the neurobiological mechanisms of food craving and how these processes are influenced by consumption of sugary, fatty, “junk-food” diets and individual susceptibility to obesity. Her work in this area also addresses potential behavioral similarities and differences between over-consumption of food vs. addictive drugs. She earned her BA in Psychology and English from Indiana University in Bloomington where she studied classical eyeblink conditioning in the lab of Dr. Joseph Steinmetz. She earned her PhD in Neuroscience in 2006 from the University of Michigan where she trained with Terry Robinson studying the neurobehavioral underpinnings of drug addiction. She went on to conduct postdoctoral training with Drs. Marina Wolf, Margaret Gnegy and Les Satin where she developed expertise in biochemistry and glutamatergic plasticity. Since establishing her lab in 2014, Dr. Ferrario’s scientific contributions have been acknowledged by receipt of a NARSAD Young Investigator Award, the Early Career Independent Investigator Award from ASPET, the Alan Epstein Award from SSIB, and the Henry Russel Award from UM, the highest university honor awarded to early career faculty. She has served as a UM Faculty Ally for Diversity, on the ACNP DEI Task Force, and the UM Pharmacology DEI Committee. Dr. Ferrario is currently the Pharmacology Department Postdoc Chair, co-Director of the UM Biology of Drug Abuse T32, a member of the Editorial board for Physiology and Behavior, and an Associate Member of the ACNP.

Areas of Interest

The Ferrario lab examines the neurobiological mechanisms of food craving, and how these processes are influenced by consumption of sugary, fatty, “junk-food” diets and individual susceptibility to obesity. The lab's work in this area also addresses potential behavioral similarities and differences between overconsumption of food vs.addictive drugs, with the goal of determining neuro-biological mechanisms that contribute to obesity and drug addiction. The lab uses a variety of approaches including: behavioral pharmacology, biochemistry, slice electrophysiology after in vivo manipulations, optogentic and DREADD technologies.

Honors & Awards

  • Early Career Independent Investigator Award, ASPET, Division for Neuropharmacology (2017)
  • Associate Membership, American College of Neuropsychopharmacology (2016)
  • American College of Neuropsychopharmacology Minority Travel Award (2015)
  • Kavli National Academy of Sciences Fellow U.S. National Academy of Sciences & Japan Society for the Promotion of Sciences (2014)


  • Ph.D., Neuroscience, University of Michigan (2006)
  • B.A., English and Psychology, Indiana University (2001)

Published Articles or Reviews

  • Robinson, M.J.F, Burghardt, P.R., Patterson, C.M., Nobile, C.W., Akil, H., Watson, S.J., Berridge, K.C., Ferrario, C.R. (2015) Individual Differences in Cue-Induced Motivation and Striatal Systems in Rats Susceptible to Diet-Induced Obesity. Neuropsychopharmacology Mar 12. doi: 10.1038/npp.2015.71. [Epub ahead of print] PMID: 25761571. See also: F1000 Prime: 2)
  • Newman, M.E.J. and Ferrario C.R, Interacting epidemics and coinfection on contact networks, PLOS One, 2013; 8(8):e71321, PMCID: PMC3738632 3)
  • Ferrario, C.R., Goforth, P.B., Ndukwe, B., Satin, L.S. Stretch injury selectively enhances the activity of extrasynaptic, GluN2B-containing NMDA receptors in cortical neurons.  J Neurophysiol  2013; 110(1):131-40, PMCID: PMC3727039 4) Li, X.,
  • DeJoseph M.R., Urban, J.H., Bahi A., Dreyer J-L., Meredith GE, Ford, K.A., Ferrario, C.R., Loweth, J.A., Wolf, M.E. Different roles of BDNF in nucleus accumbens core versus shell during the incubation of cue-induced cocaine craving and its long-term maintenance and its long term maintenance. J Neurosci 2013; 33:1130-42, PMCID: PMC3711541 

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