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

Drug addiction. Cocaine abuse takes a shot.
Self DW Nature 1995 Dec 378 6558 666-7
Biochemical adaptations in the mesolimbic dopamine system in response to heroin self-administration.
Self DW, McClenahan AW, Beitner-Johnson D, Terwilliger RZ, Nestler EJ Synapse 1995 Dec 21 4 312-8
Influence of neurotrophic factors on morphine- and cocaine-induced biochemical changes in the mesolimbic dopamine system.
Berhow MT, Russell DS, Terwilliger RZ, Beitner-Johnson D, Self DW, Lindsay RM, Nestler EJ Neuroscience 1995 Oct 68 4 969-79
Molecular mechanisms of drug reinforcement and addiction.
Self DW, Nestler EJ Annu. Rev. Neurosci. 1995 18 463-95
Induction of a long-lasting AP-1 complex composed of altered Fos-like proteins in brain by chronic cocaine and other chronic treatments.
Hope BT, Nye HE, Kelz MB, Self DW, Iadarola MJ, Nakabeppu Y, Duman RS, Nestler EJ Neuron 1994 Nov 13 5 1235-44
Inactivation of Gi and G(o) proteins in nucleus accumbens reduces both cocaine and heroin reinforcement.
Self DW, Terwilliger RZ, Nestler EJ, Stein L J. Neurosci. 1994 Oct 14 10 6239-47
Pertussis toxin attenuates intracranial morphine self-administration.
Self DW, Stein L Pharmacol. Biochem. Behav. 1993 Nov 46 3 689-95
The D1 agonists SKF 82958 and SKF 77434 are self-administered by rats.
Self DW, Stein L Brain Res. 1992 Jun 582 2 349-52
Receptor subtypes in opioid and stimulant reward.
Self DW, Stein L Pharmacol. Toxicol. 1992 Feb 70 2 87-94
Coupling of subtypes of the muscarinic receptor to adenylate cyclase in the corpus striatum and heart.
Ehlert FJ, Delen FM, Yun SH, Friedman DJ, Self DW J. Pharmacol. Exp. Ther. 1989 Nov 251 2 660-71


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