Neil L. Harrison, PhD

  • Professor of Anesthesiology
  • Professor of Molecular Pharmacology and Therapeutics
Profile Headshot

Profile Navigation


Academic Appointments

  • Professor of Anesthesiology
  • Professor of Molecular Pharmacology and Therapeutics


  • Male


The Harrison laboratory is interested in synaptic transmission, especially at inhibitory synapses, which are necessary for the normal processing of information in the mammalian brain. Failure of synaptic inhibition leads to epilepsy, while enhancement of synaptic inhibition is associated with reduced anxiety, muscle relaxation, sedation, hypnosis and anesthesia. The lab studies the details of inhibitory synaptic function, its modulation and plasticity, using a variety of modern electrophysiological and molecular biological techniques. Projects within the lab study these synapses at several different levels of organization, including brain slice, single cell and subcellular preparations. A major focus of the lab is on the GABA-A receptor, the principal receptor protein at inhibitory synapses in the brain. The lab personnel include physiologists, biophysicists, molecular biologists and pharmacologists.

Research Interests

  • Biophysics/Ion Channels
  • Cellular/Molecular/Developmental Neuroscience
  • Synapses and Circuits

Selected Publications

Most recent work 2015-2021:


Cabrera Garcia D., Miltiades A., Yim P., Parsons S., Elisman K., Mansouri M.T., Wagener G. and Harrison N.L. (2021) Plasma biomarkers associated with survival and thrombosis in hospitalized COVID-19 patients. 



Li M., Cabrera Garcia D., Salling M.C., Au E., Yang G. and Harrison N.L. (2021) 

Alcohol reduces the activity of somatostatin interneurons in the mouse prefrontal cortex: a neural basis for its disinhibitory effect?

Neuropharmacology, 188:108501


Cabrera Garcia D., Bekdash R., Abbott G.W., Yazawa M. and Harrison N.L. (2021) 

The envelope protein of SARS-CoV-2 increases intra-Golgi pH and forms a cation channel that is regulated by pH.

Journal of Physiology, 599, 2851-2868.


Wall A. and Harrison N.L. (2021) Early re-opening in New York this Spring would result in a resurgence of viral infections driven by the B1.1.7 variant of SARS-CoV-2. Medium. Feb 3, 2021.

Cabrera Garcia D., Miltiades A., Parsons S., Elisman K., Mansouri M.T., Wagener G. and Harr N.L. (2021) 

High levels of plasminogen activator inhibitor-1, tissue plasminogen activator and fibrinogen in patients with severe COVID-19. 

MedRxiv 10.1101/2020.12.29.20248869

Canetta S., Teboul E., Holt E., Bolkan S., Padilla N., Gordon J., Harrison N.L., and Kellendonk C. (2020) 

Differential Synaptic dynamics and circuit connectivity of hippocampal and thalamic inputs to the prefrontal cortex. 

Cerebral Cortex Communications, 1, tgaa084.


Salling M.C. and Harrison N.L. (2020) 

Constitutive genetic deletion of Hcn1 increases alcohol preference during adolescence.

Brain Sciences, 10, 763.


Salling M.C., Skelly M.J., Avegno E., Regan S., Zeric T., Nichols E. and Harrison N.L. (2018) 

Alcohol consumption during adolescence in a mouse model of binge drinking alters the intrinsic excitability and function of the prefrontal cortex through a reduction in the hyperpolarization-activated cation current.

Journal of Neuroscience,   

McCracken L. Lowes D., Salling M.C., Vollmer C., Odean N., Betz H., Harris R.A. and Harrison N.L. (2017) 

Glycine receptor α2 and α3 subunits mediate tonic and glycine-activated currents in brain.

Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 114, E7179 - E7184. 


Harrison N.L., Skelly M.J., Grosserode E., Lowes D.C., Zeric T., Phister S. and Salling M.C. (2017)?

Effects of acute alcohol on neuronal excitability in the CNS.

Neuropharmacology, 122, 36-45.


Yocum G.T., Turner D.L., Danielsson J., Barajas M.B., Zhang Y., Xu D., Harrison N.L., Homanics G.E., Farber D.L. and Emala C.W. (2017)?γ-Aminobutyric acid A receptor α4 subunit knockout enhances lung inflammation in a murine asthma model. 

American Journal of Physiology, Lung, 313, L406-415.

Avegno E., Salling M.C., Mrejeru A., Bjorklund A., Barnett A., Sulzer D. and Harrison N.L. (2016) 

Adolescent drinking in mice enhances alcohol sensitivity of a subset of dopaminergic neurons in the ventral tegmental area. 

Neuropharmacology, 110, 386-395.


Canetta S., Bolkan S., Song L-J., Sahn R., Harrison N.L., Brown A. and Kellendonk C. (2016)

Prenatal maternal immune activation alters prefrontal GABAergic transmission and anxiety-related behaviors in adult offspring.

Molecular Psychiatry, 21, 956-968.


Bekdash R. and Harrison N.L. (2015) 

Down-regulation of Gabra4 expression during alcohol withdrawal is mediated by specific microRNAs in cultured mouse cortical neurons.

Brain and Behavior, 5, e00355.


Dixon C., Harrison N.L., Lynch J.W. and Keramidas A. (2015). 

Zolpidem and eszopiclone prime α1β2γ2 GABAA receptors for longer duration of activity.

British Journal of Pharmacology, 172, 3522-3536.


Gallos G., Yocum G., Siviski M., Yim P., Fu X.W., Poe M., Cook J., Harrison N.L. and Emala C. (2015)

Selective targeting of the α5 subunit of GABAA receptors relaxes airway smooth muscle and inhibits cellular calcium handling.

American Journal of Physiology: Lung Cellular and Molecular Physiology, 308, L931-942.


Mrejeru A., Avegno E., Marti-Prats L., Sulzer D. and Harrison N.L. (2015) 

A subset of ventral tegmental area dopamine neurons responds to acute ethanol in naïve mice 

Neuroscience, 290, 649-658.


Coutts D.J. and Harrison N.L. (2015)

Acetaldehyde, not ethanol, impairs myelin formation and viability in primary mouse oligodendrocytes.

Alcohol: Clinical and Experimental Research, 39, 455-462.


Gallo E., Salling M.C., Harrison N.L., Javitch J.A. and Kellendonk C. (2015)

Upregulation of dopamine D2 receptors in the nucleus accumbens indirect pathway increases locomotion but does not reduce alcohol consumption.

Neuropsychopharmacology, 40, 1609-1618.

See more: