Carrie Ferrario, Ph.D.

Associate Professor

Office: 4742D Med. Sci. II

Lab: 4741 Med. Sci. II

Office: 734-763-8637 Lab: 734-647-1429


Dr. Ferrario joined the Pharmacology Department faculty in 2012 and is an external member of the Modern Diet and Physiology Research Center of the John B. Pierce Lab at Yale. She became an Associate Member of the American College of Neuropsychopharmacology in 2016 and is currently serving as the Pharmacology Department Faculty Ally for Diversity and is a board member of the Conference on Winter Brain Research. Her lab’s primary focus is on examining obesity-related changes in striatal function and motivated behaviors such as food-seeking and eating, as well as similarities and differences between alterations in motivation driving obesity and drug addiction.

Additional information about her lab and recent publications can be found here:


Areas of Interest

Research in my lab group focuses on understanding the neurobiological mechanisms of drug addiction and obesity. We are currently focused on identifying and understanding alterations in excitatory transmission and plasticity within the brain’s “reward pathway” that contribute to these conditions. To accomplish this, we use a variety of approaches including: behavioral pharmacology to identify alterations in motivated behaviors; biochemistry to examine alterations in receptor expression, phosphorylation and signaling; and slice electrophysiology to examine changes in neuronal function and plasticity after in vivo manipulations (e.g. exposure to high fat diet or cocaine self-administration), as well as viral approaches to control neural activity (DREADDs and Optogenetics). We are currently pursuing several lines of research related to obesity including: determining neural and behavioral differences that contribute to the development of obesity, determining how a prolonged state of obesity alters excitatory transmission and plasticity in key reward areas such as the nucleus accumbens, and examining potential roles for leptin and insulin signaling in the regulation of glutamate transmission. For our studies of drug addiction, we are examining effects of intermittent vs. continuous access to cocaine self-administration on striatal glutamatergic receptor expression and function. These studies are conducted in collaboration with Dr. Terry Robinson.

Honors & Awards

2017 Early Career Independent Investigator Award, ASPET, Division for Neuropharmacology

2016 Associate Membership, American College of Neuropsychopharmacology

2015 American College of Neuropsychopharmacology Minority Travel Award

2014 Kavli National Academy of Sciences Fellow U.S. National Academy of Sciences &
Japan Society for the Promotion of Sciences.

2014 NARSAD Young Investigator Award, Brain & Behavior Research Foundation

2012 Outstanding Mentor Award: University of Michigan, Undergraduate Research Opportunity
Program, Ann Arbor, MI



Ph.D., Neuroscience, University of Michigan, 2006
B.A., With Distinction and Departmental Honors, Psychology, With Distinction, English, Indiana University, Bloomington, IN, 2001

Post-Doctoral Training

Postdoctoral Research Associate, University of Michigan, Department of Pharmacology. Principal Investigator: Leslie E. Satin

Postdoctoral Research Associate, University of Michigan, Department of Pharmacology. Principal Investigator: Margaret E. Gnegy

Postdoctoral Research Associate, Rosalind Franklin University of Medicine and Science, Neuroscience Department. Principal Investigator: Marina E. Wolf

Published Articles or Reviews

Web Sites