Caroline Browne, PhD

Caroline A Browne, PhD

Name: Caroline A Browne, PhD

USU Department of Primary Appointment: 
Anatomy, Physiology and Genetics
Faculty Rank: 
Research Assistant Professor
Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences, Bethesda, MD

Research Interests:
Stress Neurobiology
Drug development for psychiatric disorders

Office Phone: 
(301) 295-3238


University College Cork, Cork, Ireland B.Sc. 2006 Neuroscience
University College Cork, Cork, Ireland Ph.D. 2012 Pharmacology
University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA Postdoc 2016 Neuropharmacology


My primary research goal is to clearly define the role of endogenous opioid systems and glutamatergic neurotransmission in normal and pathological conditions relevant to major depressive disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder and comorbid substance abuse.
As a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Pennsylvania, my research focused on examining the pharmacological properties of novel antidepressants suitable for treatment-resistant patients that produce rapid clinical effects, including the mixed opioid analgesic buprenorphine and the NMDA antagonist ketamine. Under the guidance and in collaboration with Dr. Irwin Lucki, I developed a body of work detailing the effects of kappa opioid receptor antagonists and partial agonists in modulating depression, anhedonia and anxiety, ultimately culminating in several peer reviewed publications, including a highly cited review paper on ketamine’s acute and protracted action, which has had over 30000 views. I developed a passion for translational research during my graduate studies at the University College Cork, Ireland, under the excellent supervision of Dr. John F. Cryan. During this time, I conducted a wide range of projects related to stress, anxiety and depression; including evaluation of neurotransmitters and behavior in several rodent strains following chronic dietary manipulation of tryptophan, immunological challenge and stress. Collaborations with other research groups during this time were highly successful and extended my training in molecular biology techniques. As a Senior Research Scientist with GlaxoSmithKline, I held responsibility for the validation and characterization of animal models of sepsis and the discovery of relevant biomarkers to evaluate the success of preclinical trials for BET inhibitors, small molecules targeting epigenetic regulation of inflammatory mediators. Additionally, I established a line of work to assess potential underlying mechanisms mediating cognitive decline and the development of depression following recovery from septic encephalopathy. Prior to moving to the University of Pennsylvania, I spent a brief time with the biotechnology company Alimentary Health screening probiotics as potential therapeutics to alleviate anxiety. This research effort involved the identification of potential probiotics using cell-based screens, and evaluation of these probiotics following immune stimulation of peripheral blood mononuclear cells of patients and healthy controls in double blind phase II clinical trials.
Currently, my research efforts at the Uniformed Services University are focused on discovering physiological and molecular markers of rapid-acting antidepressant compounds. The contribution of pharmacogenetics and sex differences in modulating treatments of psychiatric disorders are central to my research efforts.


  • 1. Authement ME, Langlois LD, Shepard RD, Browne CA, Lucki I, Kassis H, Nugent FS. A role for corticotropin-releasing factor signaling in the lateral habenula and its modulation by early-life stress. Science Signaling, 2018 Mar 6; 11(520). pii: eaan6480. PMID: 29511121
  • 2. Browne CA, Falcon E, Robinson SA, Berton O, Lucki I. Reversal of Stress-Induced Social Interaction Deficits by Buprenorphine. International Journal of Neuropsychopharmacology, 2018, Feb 1;21(2):164-174. PMID: 29020387
  • 3. Erickson RL, Browne CA, Lucki I Hair corticosterone measurement in mouse models of type 1 and type 2 diabetes mellitus. Physiology & Behavior, 2017, pii: S0031-9384(16)30843-5. PMID: 28188737
  • 4. Browne CA, Erickson RL, Blendy JA, Lucki I Genetic variation in the behavioral effects of buprenorphine in female mice derived from a murine model of the OPRM1 A118G polymorphism. Neuropharmacology. 2017 117:401-407 PMID: 28089708
  • 5. Robinson SA, Erickson RL, Browne CA, Lucki I. A role for the mu opioid receptor in the antidepressant effects of buprenorphine. Behavioral Brain Research. 2016 Nov 3; 319:96-103. PMID: 27818236
  • 6. Falcon E*, Browne CA*, Leon R, Fleites V, Sweeney R, Kirby LG, Lucki I. Antidepressant-like effects of buprenorphine are mediated by kappa opioid receptors. Neuropsychopharmacology. 2016 Aug;41(9):2344-51 PMID: 26979295
  • 7. Browne CA, van Nest DS, Lucki I. Antidepressant-like effects of buprenorphine in rats are strain dependent. Behavioral Brain Research. 2015. 278C: p. 385-392. PMID: 25453747
  • 8. Browne CA, Hanke J, Rose C, Walsh I, Foley T, Clarke G, Schwegler H, Cryan JF, Yilmazer-Hanke DM, Effect of acute swim stress on plasma corticosterone and brain monoamine levels in bidirectionally selected DxH recombinant inbred mouse strains differing in fear recall and extinction. Stress. 2014. 17(6): p. 471-83. PMID: 25117886
  • 9. Arnold SE, Lucki I. Brookshire BR, Carlson GC, Browne CA, Kazi H, Bang S, Choi BR, Chen Y, McMullen MF, Kim SF. High fat diet produces brain insulin resistance, synaptodendritic abnormalities and altered behavior in mice. Neurobiology of Disease. 2014 Mar 29; 67C: 79-87. PMID: 24686304
  • 10. Browne CA and Lucki I. Mechanisms mediating the antidepressant-like effects of Ketamine: Screening for Fast-Acting Novel Antidepressants. Frontiers in Pharmacology. 2013 Dec 27; 4:161 PMID: 24409146