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Personal Information
Name Harkin, Andrew
Main Department Pharmacy
College Title Associate Professor in Pharmacology
College Tel +353 1 896 2807
Fax +353 1 896 2810
Dr. Andrew Harkin joined the School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences in October 2005. Prior to that he was a Lecturer in Pharmacology in the School of Pharmacy, University College Cork. Since graduating with a Ph.D. in Pharmacology from NUI, Galway in 1998, Dr. Harkin held research fellowships from the Higher Education Authority and Health Research Board. He has also spent time as a visiting researcher in the Department of Psychiatry and Human Behaviour, University of Mississippi in Jackson, and in the Department of Safety Pharmacology, H. Lundbeck A/S, Copenhagen. Presently he leads a neuropharmacology research group supported by EU Framework 7, the Health Research Board, Science Foundation Ireland and the Irish Research Council for Science Engineering and Technology. His research is primarily focused in two areas 1. pharmacological treatments for depression and other stress related disorders and 2. substance abuse.
Membership of Professional Institutions, Associations, Societies
Details Date From Date To
Psychoneuroimmunology Research Society 2010 present
Collegium Internationale Neuro-Psychopharmacologicum 2003 present
British Pharmacological Society 2003 present
British Association for Psychopharmacology 1997 present
Awards and Honours
Award Date
Health Research Board career development fellowship 2002
CINP Young Investigator Award. 2004
Fellowship Trinity College Dublin 2011
Description of Research Interests
My research falls within the remit of Neuropsychopharmacology, a discipline that links basic neuroscience to the pharmacological treatment of psychiatric and neurological disease. My research is primarily focused in the thematic areas of depression and drug abuse. Selected examples of projects in these areas are outlined below: 1. Early diagnosis, treatment and prevention of mood disorders targeting the activated inflammatory response system [Acronym: MOODINFLAME] 2. Antidepressant-induced adaptation to the glutamate NMDA receptor (NMDA-R), a locus for antidepressant activity. 3. Neuronal nitric oxide synthase (nNOS): a novel target for antidepressant action. 4. Interactions between Caffeine and drugs of abuse. 4. Recreational MDMA (“Ecstasy”) abuse –implications for neuropsychiatric disorders. As currently available monoamine-based drugs for treating depression have many clinical limitations including slow onset of therapeutic action and in some cases resistance to treatment, targeting new pathways may result in superior drugs for the treatment of depressive illness. I also run a research program on acute and long-term consequences of recreational drug use. Current projects include an assessment of the efficacy of antidepressant drugs following serotonin nerve terminal loss induced by methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA; “Ecstasy”), and pharmacodynamic mechanisms mediating a potentially lethal interaction between caffeine and other psychostimulant drugs including amphetamines and cocaine.
Research Interests
Addiction and substance abuse Depression Emotional, behavioural and cognitive disorders Imaging Techniques
In vitro testing, trial methods Neurobiology Neurochemistry and neuropharmacology Neuropharmacology
Neuroscience Psychiatry
Research Projects
Project title Early diagnosis, treatment and prevention of mood disorders targeting the activated inflammatory response system.
Summary [Acronym: MOODINFLAME] 2008-2013. A collaborative, large-scale focused research project
Funding Agency EU 7th Framework
Programme FP7- HEALTH-2007-2.2.1-8: From mood disorders to experimental models
Type of Project
Date from 2008
Date to 2012
Person Months 48

Project title Neuronal nitric oxide synthase: A novel target for antidepressant activity
Summary Inhibition of N-methyl-D-aspartic acid receptors (NMDA-R) has shown considerable promise as a drug target to produce new antidepressants that work faster, and are more effective than existing antidepressants. However, targeting NMDA-R directly is problematic due to adverse effects. We hypothesise that targeting signalling events down-stream of NMDA-R may provide a more viable approach. nNOS is a down stream target of NMDA-R. We have published a number of original papers demonstrating that 1) NOS inhibitors have antidepressant properties 2) such properties are dependent on endogenous serotonin and 3) NOS inhibitors can augment the effects of conventional antidepressants in preclinical models
Funding Agency Health Research Board
Programme Research Project Grant
Type of Project
Date from 2008
Date to 2012
Person Months 48

Project title Caffeine exacerbates the acute toxicity of 3,4 methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA; “Ecstasy”): A role for dopamine ?
Summary Co-administration of caffeine profoundly enhances the acute toxicity of MDMA. This project will elucidate the mechanism underlying a potentially serious drug interaction between caffeine and MDMA and clarify risks associated with the concurrent consumption of caffeine with other drugs which increase dopaminergic transmission.
Funding Agency Health Research Board
Programme Research Project Grant
Type of Project
Date from 2006
Date to 2009
Person Months 36

Publications and Other Research Outputs
Peer Reviewed
Doucet MV, Harkin A, Dev KK, The PSD-95/nNOS Complex: New Drugs for Depression?, Pharmacology & Therapeutics, 133, 2012, p218 - 229
TARA - Full Text
Vanattou-Saifoudine N, McNamara R, Harkin A, Caffeine provokes adverse interactions with MDMA ("Ecstasy") and related psychostimulants: mechanisms and mediators, British Journal of Pharmacology, 2012, pEpub ahead of print
E.N. McNamee, K.M. Ryan, E.W. Griffin, R.E. González-Reyes, K.J. Ryan, A. Harkin and T.J. Connor, Noradrenaline acting at central beta-adrenoceptors induces interleukin-10 and suppressor of cytokine signaling-3 expression in rat brain: Implications for neurodegeneration, Brain Behavior and Immunity, 24, (4), 2010, p660 - 671
Notes: [PubMed ID: 20193756]
L.C. Gleeson, K.J. Ryan, E.W. Griffin, T.J. Connor and A. Harkin, The beta2-adrenoceptor agonist clenbuterol elicits neuroprotective, anti-inflammatory and neurotrophic actions in the kainic acid model of excitotoxicity , Brain Behavior and Immunity, 24, (8), 2010, p1354 - 1361
Vanattou-Saifoudine N, McNamara R, Harkin A., Mechanisms mediating the ability of caffeine to influence MDMA ("Ecstasy")-induced hyperthermia in rats. , British Journal of Pharmacology, 160, 2010, p860 - 877
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Last Updated:31-JUL-2014