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Dr. Andrew Harkin

Associate Professor in Pharmacology (Pharmacy)

Deputy Director of TCIN (Trinity Inst. of Neurosciences (TCIN))

Andrew Harkin is Associate Professor in Pharmacology in the School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences in Trinity College Dublin. He is a graduate of NUI Galway (B.Sc. 1994; Ph.D. 1998) and prior to joining Trinity College held a lecturing post in the School of Pharmacy, University College Cork. He was elected to Fellowship in Trinity College in 2011. Over the course of his research career he worked in the Department of Psychiatry and Human Behavior at the University of Mississippi Medical Center, Safety Pharmacology Laboratories at H. Lunbeck A/S Valby, Copenhagen and has held post-doctoral research fellowships funded by the Higher Education Authority (Programme for Research in Third Level Institutions) and the Health Research Board of Ireland (career development award, 2002). He leads the Neuropsychopharmacology Research Group in Trinity College Institute of Neuroscience (TCIN) funded by the European Commission (Framework 7 - Brain Imaging Return to Health [R'Birth], a Marie Curie international training network for early stage and experienced researchers and MOODINFLAME; a collaborative, large-scale focused research project with a variety of academic and industrial partners focused on early diagnosis, treatment and prevention of mood disorders targeting the activated inflammatory response system. He has also received project funding from Science Foundation Ireland, Health Research Board and the Irish Research Council for Science Engineering and Technology. His group collaborates with a variety of academic and industrial partners on fundamental and clinical projects. Current research interests include bi-directional nervous system immune interactions, the role of stress and inflammation in the pathogenesis of mental illness, potential of anti-inflammatory agents in treating psychiatric disorders, targeting glutamate neuronal transmission in neuropsychiatric disorders and safety pharmacology of recreational drugs. He has co-authored 100 peer-reviewed publications, book chapters and over 150 published abstracts/conference proceedings and has delivered numerous invited lectures and oral presentations at international conferences, workshops and various research institutions. He is a member of the International College of Neuropsychopharmacolgy (CINP), the British Association for Psychopharmacology (BAP) and the Psychoneuroimmunology Research Society (PNIRS) and is a past recipient of the CINP's Rafaelsen award in recognition of his commitment to the field of neuropsychopharmacology. He is on the editorial boards of a number of journals including Acta Neuropsychiatrica, Brain Behavior and Immunity, PLOS ONE, and Frontiers in Neuropharmacology and Behavioural Neuroscience. He is a founder member of the Depression Interest Group, currently serves as deputy director of the Institute of Neuroscience and chairs the Animal Research Ethics Committee in Trinity College. He has a long standing track record in mentoring and training of PhD students, 17 students having completed to date, and has participated in PhD training programmes in TCIN funded under the auspices of the PRTLI. He currently teaches on a number of undergraduate and postgraduate taught programmes in TCD including the Pharmacy degree, B.A. Moderatorship in Neuroscience, B.Sc. Human Health and Disease and M.Sc. programmes in Pharmaceutical Sciences, Pharmaceutical Manufacturing Technology, Neuroscience, Biological Psychiatry and Molecular Medicine and is former Director of Postgraduate Teaching and Learning in the School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences.
  Addiction and substance abuse   Animal Research Policy   Depression   Emotional, behavioural and cognitive disorders   Ethics/Values in Science and Technology   Histology   Histology, Cytochemistry, Histochemistry   Imaging Techniques   In vitro testing, trial methods   MDMA ("Ecstasy")   Medicine   Neurobiology   Neurochemistry and neuropharmacology   Neurodegeneration   Neuroimaging   Neuroimmunology   Neuropharmacology   Neuroplasticity   Neuroscience   Neurotoxicity   PHARMACODYNAMICS   PHARMACOKINETIC   PHARMACOLOGICAL CHARACTERIZATION   PHARMACOLOGICAL EVIDENCE   PHARMACOLOGICAL TREATMENT   PHARMACOLOGY   Physiology   Psychiatry   Stress Response, Neuroanatomy
 Brain Imaging Return to Health
 Early diagnosis, treatment and prevention of mood disorders targeting the activated inflammatory response system.
 Neuronal nitric oxide synthase: A novel target for antidepressant activity
 Caffeine exacerbates the acute toxicity of 3,4 methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA; "Ecstasy"): A role for dopamine ?
 Caffeine promotes hyperthermia and serotonergic loss following co-administration of the substituted amphetamines, MDMA

Details Date
Member of external assessment committee to evaluate proposal for Collaborative Research Centres funded by Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (German Research Foundation). 2018
Member of external assessment committee to evaluate proposals for Centres of Excellence for Improving International Scientific Competitiveness funded by the Estonian Research Council. 2015
I have served as External examiner for PhD candidates in Aarhus University, Denmark; University of Turku, Finland; University of Tartu, Estonia; Erasmus Medical Centre, Rotterdam, The Netherlands; University of Nottingham, UK; University College Cork; University College Dublin; National University of Ireland Galway; Royal College of Surgeons Dublin. from 2012
Consultant on psychoactive substances to the Garda National Drug Unit and Forensic Science Laboratory of the Department of Justice in criminal prosecution proceedings and to the Dublin coroner's court providing expert reports, opinion and testimony. from 2010
I am a member of editorial boards of Brain Behavior and Immunity, PLOS One, Frontiers in Neuropharmacology, Frontiers in Behavioural Neuroscience and Acta Neuropsychiatrica. from 2015
I have served as an expert reviewer for international grant awarding bodies including the German Research Foundation Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG); The Ontario Mental Health Foundation; Research Foundation - Flanders (Fonds Wetenschappelijk Onderzoek - Vlaanderen, FWO); Estonian Research Council and National Science Centre, Poland. I have also served as reviewer of research grant applications for the Health Research Board of Ireland. from 2012
I am a regular peer reviewer for international neuroscience and pharmacology journals including Nature Communications, Neuropsychopharmacology, Psychopharmacology, Journal of Psychopharmaology, International Journal of Neuropsychopharmacology, European Neuropsychopharmacology, Neuropharmacology, European Journal of Pharmacology, British Journal of Pharmacology, Journal of Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics, Behavioral Pharmacology, Brain Behavior and Immunity, Neuroscience, European Journal of Neuroscience, Journal of Neuroscience, CNS Drug Reviews, Molecular Brain Research, Behavioural Brain Research, Neuroscience and Biobehavioural Reviews, Neuroscience Letters, Physiology and Behavior. from 2010
Details Date From Date To
Neuroscience Ireland 2012 Present
Psychoneuroimmunology Research Society 2010 present
Collegium Internationale Neuro-Psychopharmacologicum 2003 present
British Pharmacological Society 2003 present
British Association for Psychopharmacology 1997 present
David, J., Gormley, S., McIntosh, A., Kebede, V., Thuery, G., Varidaki, A., Coffey, E.T., Harkin, A., L-alpha-amino adipic acid provokes depression-like behaviour and a stress related increase in dendritic spine density in the pre-limbic cortex and hippocampus in rodents, Behavioural Brain Research, 362, 2019, p90-102 , Journal Article, PUBLISHED
Dempsey E, Abautret-Daly Á, Docherty NG, Medina C, Harkin A. , Persistent Central Inflammation and Region Specific Cellular Activation Accompany Depression- and Anxiety-like Behaviours During the Resolution Phase of Experimental Colitis, Brain Behav Immun , 2019, p616-632 , Journal Article, IN_PRESS  DOI
Harkin, A., A gut instinct for kynurenic acid, Brain, Behavior, and Immunity, 79, 2019, p16-17 , Notes: [cited By 0], Journal Article, PUBLISHED  DOI
O†Neill, E. and Chiara Goisis, R. and Haverty, R. and Harkin, A., L-alpha-aminoadipic acid restricts dopaminergic neurodegeneration and motor deficits in an inflammatory model of Parkinson†s disease in male rats, Journal of Neuroscience Research, 97, (7), 2019, p804-816 , Notes: [cited By 0], Journal Article, PUBLISHED  DOI
Harkin, A., McLoughln DM, Ketamine and depression: A special kase for kynurenic acid?, Brain Behavior and Immunity, 75, 2019, p10 - 11, Review Article, PUBLISHED  DOI
Griffin, E.W., Yssel, J.D., O Neill, E., Ryan, K.J., Boyle, N., Harper, P., Harkin, A. and Connor, T., The beta2-adrenoceptor agonist clenbuterol reduces the neuroinflammatory response, neutrophil infiltration and apoptosis following intra-striatal IL-1β administration to rats, Immunopharmacology and Immunotoxicology, 2018, p1-8 , Notes: [cited By 0; Article in Press], Journal Article, PUBLISHED  DOI
Yssel, J.D., O'Neill, E., Nolan, Y.M., Connor, T.J., Harkin, A., Treatment with the noradrenaline re-uptake inhibitor atomoxetine alone and in combination with the alpha2-adrenoceptor antagonist idazoxan attenuates loss of dopamine and associated motor deficits in the LPS inflammatory rat model of Parkinson's disease, Brain, Behavior, and Immunity, 69, 2018, p456-469 , Journal Article, PUBLISHED  DOI
Finnegan, M., Galligan, T., Ryan, K., Shanahan, E., Harkin, A., Daly, L., McLoughlin, DM., Ketamine versus midazolam for depression relapse prevention following successful electroconvulsive therapy: a randomized controlled pilot trial., Journal of ECT, 2018, Notes: [EPub ahead of print], Journal Article, PUBLISHED  DOI
David, J. and O'Toole, E. and O'Reilly, K. and Thuery, G. and Assmann, N. and Finlay, D. and Harkin, A., Inhibitors of the NMDA-Nitric Oxide Signaling Pathway Protect Against Neuronal Atrophy and Synapse Loss Provoked by L-alpha Aminoadipic Acid-treated Astrocytes, Neuroscience, 392, 2018, p38-56 , Notes: [cited By 0], Journal Article, PUBLISHED  DOI
Farrell, C., Doolin, K., O'Leary, N., Jairaj, C., Roddy, D., Tozzi, L., Morris, D., Harkin, A., Frodl, T., Nemoda, Z., Szyf, M., Booij, L., O'Keane, V. , DNA methylation differences at the glucocorticoid receptor gene in depression are related to functional alterations in hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis activity and to early life emotional abuse., Psychiatry Research, (265), 2018, p341 - 348, Journal Article, PUBLISHED  DOI

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O'Neill, E., Harkin, A., Beta2-adrenoceptor stimulation restrains microglial activation and attenuates advancements in dopamine cell loss and motor dysfunction following systemic inflammation in an animal model of Parkinson's disease, British Neuroscience Association, Festival of Science, Dublin, April, 2019, 2019, Poster, PUBLISHED
Harkin, A., Neuroinflammation in Psychiatric Disorders, Institute of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Technology, University of Innsbruck, 2018, Invited Talk, PUBLISHED
O'Reilly, K., David, J., O'Toole, E., Harkin, A., Astrocytic ablation by L-alpha amino adipic acid (L-AAA) induces neuronal atrophy; rescue by NMDA-R amtagonists and inhibitors of the PSD-95/nNOS interaction., All Ireland Schools of Pharmacy Conference, University College Cork, 2017, 2018, Poster, PUBLISHED
Harkin, A., Stress, inflammation and tryptophan metabolism in the pathogenesis of depression, Novel mechanisms of resilience and stress-related disorders, Goethe University Frankfurt, September, 2017, Invited Talk, PUBLISHED
Harkin, A., Targeting Glial associated neuronal atrophy in stress, inflammatory and neurodegenerative disorders, Boehringer Ingelheim Pharma Gmbh +Co. KG, CNS Discovery Research, 2017, Invited Talk, PUBLISHED
Harkin, A., Glial associated neuronal atrophy in schizophrenia; insights and concepts of therapy., iPsychosis international meeting on basic and clincal aspects of immune function in psychosis, National University of Ireland, Galway, 2017, Invited Talk, PUBLISHED
Harkin, A., Glial-neuronal interactions and neuronal plasticity - implications for neuropsychiatric disorders, International meeting on neuronal-glial interactions, Trinity College Dublin, 2017, Invited Talk, PUBLISHED
Doolin, K., Frodl, T., Harkin, A., O'Keane, V., Altered circulating kynurenine pathway expression in pregnant women with perinatal depression., World Psychiatric Association, World Congress of Psychiatry, Berlin, Germany, 2017, 2017, Poster, PUBLISHED
Doolin, K., Harkin, A., Frodl, T., O'Keane, V. , Relationship between hippocampal subfield volumes and cortisol awakening response parameters in Major Depressive Disorder, European Neuropsychopharmacology, 30th ECNP Congress , Paris, France, 2017, 27, (4), 2017, ppS521--, Poster, PUBLISHED
Farrell, C.; O'Keane, V.; Harkin, A. et al.,, Association of maternal emotional abuse with decreased serotonin transporter gene (SLC6A4) methylation, European Neuropsychopharmacology, 29th Congress of the European-College-of-Neuropsychopharmacology (ECNP) , Vienna, Austria, October, 2016, 26, 2016, ppS177-, Meeting Abstract, PUBLISHED


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Award Date
Honorary Professor (Translational Neuropsychiatry) Aarhus University 2018
Fellowship Trinity College Dublin 2011
British Association for Psychopharmacology Certificate in Psychopharmacology 2005
CINP Young Investigator Award. 2004
Health Research Board career development fellowship 2002
My research falls within the remit of Neuropsychopharmacology, a discipline that links neuroscience to the pharmacological treatment of psychiatric and neurological disorders. My work contributes to understanding the psychopharmacology of nitric oxide (NO), targeting glutamate neuronal transmission for antidepressant action, the role of stress and inflammation in the pathogenesis of brain disorders, anti-inflammatory properties of noradrenergic agents as a potential therapeutic strategy in neurodegenerative disorders and safety pharmacology of recreational drugs, reported in over 90 peer-reviewed publications in international journals. My group utilize a range of behavioural, imaging, molecular, cellular and analytical techniques including bottom up laboratory and top down clinical approaches and I have ongoing collaborations with a number of industrial partners and investigators from a variety of disciplines. Current research on neuroinflammation and glia-neuronal interactions is focused on molecular pathways including glutamate-NO, noradrenaline and tryptophan-kynurenine pathways implicated in neurodegeneration in efforts to identify pharmacological interventions of potential therapeutic benefit. Furthermore, inhibition of the glutamate NMDA receptor (NMDA-R) subtype has shown considerable promise as a drug target to produce new antidepressants that work faster, and are more effective than existing antidepressants. A working hypothesis is that targeting signalling events down-stream of NMDA-R including NO may provide a more viable approach and current research is assessing such targets for development of novel antidepressant agents. I have engaged in projects funded by the European Commission including "ReBirth", a Marie Curie funded international training network for early stage and experienced researchers; MOODINFLAME, a collaborative research project with a variety of academic and industrial partners focused on targeting the activated inflammatory response system in mood disorders; and participated in "MolCellbio", a PhD training programme funded by the Higher Education Authority. I have also received funding from Science Foundation Ireland, Health Research Board and the Irish Research Council for Science Engineering and Technology.