Interdisciplinary Life Science - PULSe Great research is a matter of choice

Richard M. Van Rijn

Richard M. Van Rijn Profile Picture

Assistant professor of Med Chem Mol Pharm
B.S./M.S. (2002): Bio-pharmaceutical Sciences - Leiden University
Ph.D. (2007): Molecular Pharmacology - VU University Amsterdam
Postdoc. (2007-2013): Ernest Gallo Clinic and Research Center - Department of Neurology - University of California San Francisco

Contact Info:

Training Group(s):
Membrane Biology
Integrative Neuroscience

Current Research Interests:

In my laboratory we use innovative strategies and techniques to provide a better understanding of the molecular mechanism by which G-protein coupled receptors (GPCRs) function, propagate signal transduction and modulate behavior. GPCRs form the largest protein family in the human genome and are crucial in relaying extracellular information into the cell. GPCRs are involved in many diverse physiological responses, including light perception, taste, immune responses, cardiovascular activity and neurotransmission. Currently, 30-40% of all drugs, approved by the Federal Drug Administration, target GPCRs. New insights into how these receptors work have re-energized the study of these receptors. Specifically, we study biased receptor signaling and GPCR heteromerization and potential overlap of these concepts and their roles in (patho)-physiological responses. We frequently use the delta opioid receptor as model receptor for our studies. We use a combination of in vitro cell culture assays, with in vivo mouse behavioral paradigms and ex vivo assays to perform translational/pre-clinical research with the goal of proposing and developing new therapeutic drugs that may have better potency, efficacy and fewer side effects. Our main focus is on neurological disorders, with an emphasis on drug addiction and co-morbid mood and anxiety disorders as well as chronic pain conditions. Current projects involve investigations into the risk of the alcohol mixed energy drinks, the role of beta-arrestin dependent signaling in depression and anxiety disorders, the physiological function of opioid-dopamine interactions and alcohol withdrawal induced hyperalgesia.

Selected Publications:

Milan-Lobo L, Enquist JE, Van Rijn RM, Whistler JL, anti-analgesic effect of the  mu/delta opioid receptor-heteromer revealed by ligand-biased antagonism, 2013, Plos One, 8(3): e58362

Van Rijn RM, Harvey JH, Brissett DI, DeFriel JN, Whistler JL, Novel screening assay for the selective detection of G protein-coupled receptor heteromer signaling, J Pharmacol Exp Ther, 334(1):179-188

Van Rijn RM, Brissett DI, Whistler JL, Distinctive modulation of ethanol place preference by delta opioid receptor selective agonists, 2012, Drug Alcohol Depend, 2012, 122(1-2):156-159

Brissett DI, Whistler JL, Van Rijn RM, Contributions of mu and delta opioid receptors to the pharmacological profile of kappa opioid receptor subtypes, Eur. J Pain, 2012, 16 (3): 327-337.

Van Rijn RM, Brissett DI, Whistler JL, Emergence of functional spinal delta-mu opioid receptors heteromers after chronic ethanol exposure, Biol Psychiatry, 2012,71:232-238

Van Rijn RM, Brissett DI, Whistler JL, Dual efficacy of delta opioid selective ligands for ethanol drinking and anxiety, J Pharmacol Exp Ther, 2010, 335 (1):133-139

Van Rijn RM, Whistler JL, Waldhoer M, Opioid receptor heteromer-specific trafficking and pharmacology, Curr Opin Pharmacol, 2010, 10:73-79

Van Rijn RM, Whistler JL. The delta-1 opioid receptor is a heterodimer that opposes the actions of the delta-2 receptor on alcohol intake, Biol. Psychiatry, 2009, 66:777-784

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