Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine

Ryan Drenan Lab

About Our Lab

We study the physiological processes regulated by native nicotinic acetylcholine receptors (nAChRs), a large family of ligand gated ion channel proteins. These receptors mediate key aspects of cholinergic signaling in the brain, and are involved in several important cognitive processes, including motivated behavior, affective behavior, attention, and learning/memory. Aberrant nAChR activity is linked to several neurological diseases/disorders, such as nicotine addiction, schizophrenia, major depressive disorder, Alzheimer's disease, and Parkinson's disease. We utilize a broad range of techniques, including patch clamp electrophysiology, confocal and two-photon imaging, immunohistochemistry, and behavioral approaches.


  • Peng, C., Engle, S.E., Yan, Y., Weera, M.M., Berry, J.N., Arvin, M.C., Zhao, G., McIntosh, J.M., Chester, J.A., and Drenan, R.M. (2017) Altered nicotine reward-associated behavior following α4 nAChR subunit deletion in ventral midbrain. PLoS ONE 12(7): e0182142.
  • Hurtado-Zavala, J.I., Ramachandran, B., Ahmed, S., Halder, R., Bolleyer, C., Awasthi, A., Stahlberg, M., Wagener, R.J., Anderson, K., Drenan, R.M., Lester, H.A., Miwa, J.M., Staiger, J.F., Fischer, A., and Dean, C. (2017) TRPV1 regulates excitatory innervation of OLM neurons in the hippocampus. Nature Communications 8: 15878.

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Ryan Drenan, PhD

Ryan Drenan, PhD
Associate Professor in Pharmacology

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