Dr. Self received his bachelor’s in Zoology from Iowa State University in 1985, and worked as a biochemist at Endocrine Sciences in Los Angeles, CA until 1987. Dr. Self entered graduate school in 1987 in the Department of Pharmacology at UC Irvine, and received a Ph.D. there in 1992. Dr. Self was a postdoctoral fellow from 1992-1995 in the Division of Molecular Psychiatry at Yale University. Dr. Self was appointed to an Assistant Professorship in the Psychiatry Department at Yale University in 1996.

In late 2000, Dr. Self joined the UT Southwestern faculty as an Associate Professor of Psychiatry in the Seay Center for Basic and Applied Research in Psychiatric Illness. Dr. Self has pioneered work on the role of neuroadaptations in addictive behavior, and has identified important neurobiological mechanisms underlying drug craving and relapse to drug seeking. In 1996, he was awarded a Presidential Early Career Award by the White House, and in 2006, the prestigious Daniel H. Efron Award by the American College of Neuropsychopharmacology, for contributions relating to this work. Dr. Self was appointed Director of the Psychiatry Neuroscience Division in 2013. His laboratory continues to implement modern molecular technology in the study of addictive behavior.


Iowa St Univ Science Technol (1985), Zoology
Graduate School
Uni of California-Irvine (1992), Pharmacology

Research Interest

  • Behavioral Neuroscience
  • Neurobiology of Addiction
  • Neuropharmacology
  • Systems Neuroscience


Featured Publications LegendFeatured Publications

Differential ability of D1 and D2 dopamine receptor agonists to induce and modulate expression and reinstatement of cocaine place preference in rats.
Graham DL, Hoppenot R, Hendryx A, Self DW Psychopharmacology (Berl.) 2007 Apr 191 3 719-30
Addiction-related alterations in D1 and D2 dopamine receptor behavioral responses following chronic cocaine self-administration.
Edwards S, Whisler KN, Fuller DC, Orsulak PJ, Self DW Neuropsychopharmacology 2007 Feb 32 2 354-66
IRS2-Akt pathway in midbrain dopamine neurons regulates behavioral and cellular responses to opiates.
Russo SJ, Bolanos CA, Theobald DE, DeCarolis NA, Renthal W, Kumar A, Winstanley CA, Renthal NE, Wiley MD, Self DW, Russell DS, Neve RL, Eisch AJ, Nestler EJ Nat. Neurosci. 2007 Jan 10 1 93-9
Enhanced acquisition of cocaine self-administration by increasing percentages of C57BL/6J genes in mice with a nonpreferring outbred background.
Ruiz-Durántez E, Hall SK, Steffen C, Self DW Psychopharmacology (Berl.) 2006 Jul 186 4 553-60
Essential role of BDNF in the mesolimbic dopamine pathway in social defeat stress.
Berton O, McClung CA, Dileone RJ, Krishnan V, Renthal W, Russo SJ, Graham D, Tsankova NM, Bolanos CA, Rios M, Monteggia LM, Self DW, Nestler EJ Science 2006 Feb 311 5762 864-8
Monogamy: dopamine ties the knot.
Edwards S, Self DW Nat. Neurosci. 2006 Jan 9 1 7-8
Antisense-induced reduction in nucleus accumbens cyclic AMP response element binding protein attenuates cocaine reinforcement.
Choi KH, Whisler K, Graham DL, Self DW Neuroscience 2006 137 2 373-83
Effects of intra-nucleus accumbens shell administration of dopamine agonists and antagonists on cocaine-taking and cocaine-seeking behaviors in the rat.
Bachtell RK, Whisler K, Karanian D, Self DW Psychopharmacology (Berl.) 2005 Nov 183 1 41-53
Chromatin remodeling is a key mechanism underlying cocaine-induced plasticity in striatum.
Kumar A, Choi KH, Renthal W, Tsankova NM, Theobald DE, Truong HT, Russo SJ, Laplant Q, Sasaki TS, Whistler KN, Neve RL, Self DW, Nestler EJ Neuron 2005 Oct 48 2 303-14
Molecular and genetic approaches for behavioral analysis of protein function.
Self DW Biol. Psychiatry 2005 Jun 57 12 1479-84


Featured Books Legend Featured Books

Honors & Awards

  • American College of Neuropsychopharmacology
    Elected to Fellow (2011)
  • Daniel H. Efron Research Award
    American College of Neuropsychopharmacology (2006)
  • Lydia Bryant Test Professorship
    Dept. of Psychiatry. UT Southwestern Medical Center (2001)
  • Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers (PECASE)
    Awarded by the White House for "Innovative integration of molecular biology with behavioral, pharmacological and biochemical techniques in the study of drug addiction" (1996)

Professional Associations/Affiliations

  • American College of Neuropsychopharmacology
  • College on Problems of Drug Dependence
  • European Behavioural Pharmacology Society
  • Society for Neuroscience
  • Society of Biological Psychiatry