Joanna Peris, Ph.D.

Joanna Peris

Associate Professor




PHONE: (352) 273-7688

CV: Link to CV



Ph.D. in Psychobiology, Oregon Health Sciences University, School of Medicine 1984

M.S. Psychobiology, Oregon Health Sciences University, School of Medicine 1982

B.S. Biology, Psychology, Bowling Green State University, 1980

Research Interests

The Peris lab is currently studying the neurochemical mechanisms of ethanol addiction. As part of this research, we measure how dopaminergic and amino acid neurotransmission in brain reward circuitry (e.g., nucleus accumbens, ventral tegmental area) is altered in rodents exhibiting high degrees of ethanol self-administration. My laboratory is uniquely equipped to detect extracellular neurotransmitter levels using on-line capillary electrophoresis separation and laser-induced fluorescence detection (CE-LIF). When coupled with in vivo microdialysis, CE-LIF provides second-to-second temporal resolution of changes in amino acid neurotransmission in awake behaving animals.

We have developed the “jello shot” method of ethanol self-administration with Dr. Neil Rowland of the Department of Psychology. This model results in pharmacologically relevant levels of ethanol intake in non-genetically-selected rodents, but also controls for non-ethanol reward, caloric consumption and comparable levels of operant responding by the use of non-ethanol gelatin as a control reinforcer. Utilizing a combination of these techniques, we have demonstrated that previous binge ethanol exposures selectively increase ethanol intake, ethanol reward and glutamate levels in nucleus accumbens while not affecting plain gel intake or neurotransmission during plain gel reward. Another novel finding indicates the importance of elevations in glycine in the nucleus accumbens during anticipation of reward.

Our most recent work, in collaboration with Dr. Eric G. Krause in our department, has focused on the role of oxytocin in the regulation of reward circuitry and its impact on ethanol intake. We have found that oxytocin receptors are expressed by both dopamine and glutamate neurons in the ventral tegmental area which might mediate oxytocin inhibition of ethanol intake. We are currently developing optogenetic techniques to address how selective activation of neurons in reward centers that express oxytocin receptors alters ethanol reward and intake.

Research Group Members

  • Kaley MacFadyen – Predoctoral student
  • Alexandra Hagan – Pharm.D. student
  • Gennaro Hernandez – Pharm.D. student
  • Adrian Rodriguez – Pharm.D. student
  • Madelyn Steck – Undergraduate Honors student

Recent Funding

  • Private donation to University of Florida Research Foundation
  • Prosper Research Enhancement Award, College of Pharmacy

Recent Publications