Joanna Peris, Ph.D.

Contact Information

Department of Pharmacodynamics
University of Florida, Box-100487
Gainesville, FL 32610
(352) 273-7688


Associate Professor Department of Pharmacodynamics, College of Pharmacy.

Research Area

The influence of alcohol and cocaine on amino acid neurochemistry. Dr. Peris studies how previous ethanol exposure influences the behavioral and neurochemical characteristics of ethanol self-administration in rats.


Ph.D 1984, Department of Behavioral Neurosciences, Oregon Health Sciences University, Portland OR
Post-doctoral fellow, 1984-1988, Department of Pharmacology, University of Colorado Health Sciences Center, Denver CO.

Current Research

My lab is actively studying the neurochemical mechanisms of ethanol addiction. As part of this research, we measure how amino acid neurotransmission in brain regions highly implicated in the addiction process (e.g., nucleus accumbens, central nucleus of the amygdala) are altered in rats self-administering ethanol. As pioneered by Dr. R. T. Kennedy, the combination of in vivo microdialysis in awake behaving animals with on-line capillary electrophoresis/laser-induced fluorescence analysis provides the ability to measure second-to-second fluctuations in brain amino acid levels including glycine, GABA and glutamate, during periods of ethanol craving and self-administration. Our lab was the first to report increased glycine levels in nucleus accumbens associated with increased motivation for ethanol reward. In collaboration with Dr. Neil Rowland of the UF Department of Psychology, we developed the “jello shot” model, in which rats reliably self-administer ethanol at intoxicating levels without food or liquid deprivation, which has proved useful for testing potential pharmacotherapies that decrease ethanol intake without altering caloric intake or other reinforced behaviors. My newest research focus addresses how oxytocin regulates these reward pathways and ultimately, ethanol self-administration.

Recent Publications

Li, Z., Zharikova, A., Bastian, J., Esperon, L., Hebert, N., Mathes, C., Rowland N. E. & Peris, J. High temporal resolution of amino acid levels in rat nucleus accumbens during operant ethanol self-administration: Involvement of elevated glycine in anticipation. J. Neurochem. 106:170-181, 2008.

Li, Z., Zharikova, A., Vaughan, C. H., Bastian, J., Zandy, S., Esperon, L., Rowland N. E. & Peris J. Intermittent high-dose ethanol exposures increase motivation for operant ethanol self-administration: possible neurochemical mechanism. Brain Res. 1310: 142-153, 2010.

Kasper, J., Tikamdas, R., Kim, M. S., MacFadyen, K., Aramini, R., Ladd, J., Bisceglia, S., Booth, R. G. & Peris, J. The serotonin-2 receptor modulator, (-)-trans-PAT, decreases voluntary ethanol consumption in rats. Eur. J. Pharmacology, 718: 98-104, 2013.

Peris, J.,  Rhodes, N., McCullough, B., Aramini R. & Zharikova, A.  Intermittent high dose ethanol exposure increases ethanol preference in rats. J. Stud. Alc. Drugs, 76: 165-73, 2015.

Kasper, J., Booth, R.G. &  Peris, J.   Serotonin-2C receptor agonists decrease potassium-stimulated GABA release in the nucleus accumbens.  Synapse 69: 78-85, 2015.

MacFadyen, K., Loveless, R., DeLucca, B., Wardley, K, Deogan, S., Thomas, C. & Peris, J. Peripheral oxytocin administration reduces ethanol consumption in rats.  Pharmacol. Biochem. Behav. 140: 27-32, 2016.

Peris, J., MacFadyen, K., Smith, J., Wang, L., deKloet, A.D., & Krause, E. G. Oxytocin receptors are expressed on dopamine and glutamate neurons in the mouse ventral tegmental area that project to nucleus accumbens and other mesolimbic targets, Journal of Comparative Neurology, 525: 1094-1108, 2017.