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

Active Mentor - currently hosting PULSe students for laboratory rotations and recruiting PULSe students into the laboratory; serves on preliminary exam committees

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:

Robins MT, Chiang T, Mores, KL, Alongkronrusmee D, Van Rijn RM, Critical role for Gi-protein activity in the dorsal striatum in the reduction of voluntary alcohol intake in C57Bl/6 mice, Front. Psychiatry (Special topics in opioid research), 9 (112): 1-14.

Brust TF, Alongkronrusmee D, Soto-Velasquez M, Baldwin TA, Ye Z, Dai, M, Dessauer CW, Van Rijn RM, Watts VJ, Identification of a selective small molecule inhibitor of type 1 adenylyl cyclase activity with analgesic properties, 2017, Science Signal, 10 (467): eaah5381, PMID:28223412.

Zeng L, Alongkronrusmee D, Van Rijn RM, An integrative perspective on diabetic, alcoholic and drug-induced neuropathic pain, 2017, J Pain Res, 10: 219-228 PMID:28176937, PMC5268333. Noteworthy designation, highly accessed designation,

Alongkronrusmee D, Chiang T, Van Rijn RM, Involvement of delta opioid receptors in alcohol withdrawal-induced mechanical allodynia in male C57BL/6 mice. 2016, Drug Alcohol Depend, 167:190-198 PMID: 27567436

Robins MT, Lu J, Van Rijn RM, Unique behavioral and neurochemical effects induced by repeated adolescent consumption of caffeine-mixed alcohol in C57BL/6 mice, 2016, PLoS One, 11(7):e0158189 PMID: 27380261, PMC4933367, Top 1% of most downloaded articles of the year (out of 22,000)

Chiang T, Sansuk K, Van Rijn RM, β-arrestin 2 dependence of delta opioid receptor agonists is correlated with alcohol intake., Br. J Pharmacol, 2016, 173, 332- 343, PMID:26507558, PMC4940619

Van Rijn RM1, Harvey JH, Brissett DI, DeFriel JN, Whistler JL, Novel screening assay for the selective detection of G proteincoupled receptor heteromer signaling, 2013, J Pharmacol Exp Ther, 334(1):179-188, 1corresponding author, PMID:23097213, PMC3533407, Highlighted paper

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, PMID:21889123, PMC4086708

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, PMID:20605909, PMC2957775

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, PMID:19576572, PMC2757485

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