Robert Messing
Research Interests

My lab studies molecular and circuit mechanisms that underlie addiction to alcohol and chronic pain. Much of our work has involved identifying and testing the role of candidate drug targets in models of addiction-related behavior and sensitization of peripheral sensory neurons to sensory stimuli. My laboratory has made several major contributions to the fields of drug addiction and pain, including determining that protein kinase C epsilon is a major mediator of nociceptor sensitization, and that protein kinase C epsilon and delta, N-type voltage-dependent calcium channels, the type 1 equilibrative nucleoside transporter, toll-like receptor 3, myeloid differentiation primary response 88 (MyD88), and phosphodiesterase 4 regulate ethanol intoxication and self-administration in rodents. The techniques we use include gene targeting and gene editing, RNA interference, chemical genetics with ATP analog specific kinases, and genomic analyses. This work has resulted in drug discovery projects involving protein kinase C epsilon and more recently phosphodiesterase 4 isoforms.

Typical student contributions to my research
CW Kittleman contributed histological data to: DIlly GA et al, Transl. Psychiotry 12:289, 2022
B Moskowitz and S Patil contributed to data analysis in Ferguson LB, et al Brain Sci. 9(12). pii: E381, 2019.
Comments about previous experiences working with students

I have worked with UT Austin undergraduates with majors in biology or neuroscience. Several have gone on to medical or graduate school. I choose students who show that they have read about the research topics of interest to the lab and who want to gain experience to decide whether they wish to pursue a research career. Students are generally paired with a graduate student or postdoctoral fellow. I  accept students who wish to do a senior thesis project.

Regions of Academic Interest
Countries of Academic Interest