Location: Alan Frazer, Ph.D.



Flavia Carreño, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor/Research

Personal Statement:

My current research focuses on alternative therapies for treatment resistant depression. Based on our recently published data showing that the sustained antidepressant-like response to ketamine is dependent on the activation of the ventral hippocampus, we propose a more translationally relevant approach by selectively targeting the hippocampus pharmacologically. In particular, we are exploiting the discrete localization of the alpha5-subunit of the GABAA receptor to modulate preferentially hippocampal activity. We have also published that such an approach produces an antidepressant-like response without the psychotomimetic effects and abuse related properties associated with the use of ketamine. Currently we are studying the mechanisms by which pharmacological augmentation of hippocampal activity produces sustained antidepressant-like effects.


Ph.D., Cellular and Tissue Biology
University of São Paulo
São Paulo, SP, Brazil


• Vagal nerve stimulation • antidepressants
• treatment resistant depression • neurotrophins
• TrkB receptor

Awards & Accomplishments

Chair’s Award for Excellence – Research – Dec 2014

William Thomas Booth Memorial Travel Award – UTHSCSA – Sept 2014


  • Reviewer for Journals – Biological Psychiatry – 2018-Present
  • Poster Judge – APSA Meeting (2018), BBC Meeting (2016), Pharmacology Graduate Student Symposium (2015), Passport Retreat (2015)
  • Chemical Safety Committee Member – UT Health San Antonio – 2017-Present
  • START-UP Recruitment Team – St. Mary’s University – 2017
  • Member of Center for Biomedical Neuroscience (CBN) – 2016-Present
  • Reviewer for Journals – Brain Stimulation – 2015-Present
  • Reviewer for Journals – International Journal of Neural Systems – 2015-Present
  • Reviewer for Journals – Neuropharmacology – 2015-Present

Grant Reviewer (ad hoc) – William & Ella Owens Medical Research Foundation – 2015

Brain Bowl Judge – UT Health San Antonio – 2015

Reviewer for Journals – PLOS ONE – 2014-Present

Reviewer for Journals – Neural Regeneration Research – 2014-Present

Natalia High School Science Night – Registration Booth Organizer – San Antonio, TX – 2014

Reviewer for Journals – Journal of Chemical Neuroanatomy – 2012-Present

Organizing committee for R25 students Journal Club – Department of Pharmacology, UT Health San Antonio, TX – Dec 2011-Present

Member of American Physiological Society (APS) – 2009-Present

Member of the Cardiovascular Research Institute (CRI) – 2009-Present

Member of the Society for Neuroscience (SfN) – 2005-Present


Certifications and Training 

Genome Sequencing Facility, UT Health San Antonio – Workshop attendee: RNA-seq (4 hours) – 2015

Office of Postdoctoral Affairs, UT Health San Antonio – Course attendee: Entering Mentorship (8 hours) – 2014


Grants, Funding and Research Support 

Center for Biomedical Neuroscience (CBN) pilot project grant – (Role: PI); 01/01/2015-12/31/2017: $50,000.00. – Title: Brain circuits underlying the antidepressant-like and abuse-related effects of ketamine


Lectures and Presentations

Ketamine and Beyond: Novel Treatments for Major Depressive Disorder – Pharmaceutical Sciences School seminar, UFRGS – Porto Alegre RS, Brazil – 2016

BDNF Receptor Signaling is Differentially Altered by Novel Antidepressants – ASPET Symposium speaker at Experimental Biology 2016, San Diego, CA

Brain circuits underlying the antidepressant response to ketamine: preclinical studies – Department of Pharmacology Seminar – UT Health San Antonio – 2015

Current Approaches and Technologies to Study Antidepressant Drugs in the Laboratory – UT Health San Antonio Voelcker Biosciences Teacher Academy 5th Annual Spring Conference – San Antonio, TX – 2014

How we study antidepressant drugs in the laboratory – UT Health San Antonio Health Professions Fair & Science Expo – 2013

Life as a scientist – Special presentation to R25 students/Round table – UT Health San Antonio – 2013


Carreno FR, Frazer A. (2017) Vagal Nerve Stimulation for Treatment-Resistant Depression Neurotherapeutics Jul;14(3):716-727.

Carreno FR, Collins GT, Frazer A, Lodge JD. (2017)_Selective pharmacological augmentation of hippocampal activity produces a sustained antidepressant-like response without abuse-related or psychotomimetic effects Int J Neuropsychopharmacol. Jun 1;20(6):504-509.

Carreno FR, Donegan JJ, Boley AM, Shah A, DeGuzman M, Frazer A, Lodge DJ. (2016) Activation of a ventral hippocampus-medial prefrontal cortex pathway is both necessary and sufficient for an antidepressant response to ketamine Mol Psychiatry. Sep;21(9):1298-308.

Carreno FR, Frazer A. (2016) The allure of transcutaneous vagus nerve stimulation as a novel therapeutic modality Biol Psychiatry. Feb 15;79(4):260-1.

Shah AP, Carreno FR, Wu H, Chung YA, Frazer A. (2016) Role of TrkB in the anxiolytic-like and antidepressant-like effects of vagal nerve stimulation: comparison with desipramine Neuroscience May 13; 322:273-86.


Selected Abstracts

Carreno FR, Arroyo, L.D., Lodge DJ., Frazer A. Novel mechanisms contributing to the antidepressant-like effect of pharmacological hippocampal activation Program No. 610.27. Neuroscience Meeting Planner – Washington, DC: Society for Neuroscience, 2017. Online.

Carreno FR, Frazer A, Lodge DJ. Optogenetic inactivation of the ventral hippocampus-medial prefrontal cortex pathway reverses the antidepressant-like effects of ketamine Program No. 410.13. Neuroscience Meeting Planner – Chicago, IL: Society for Neuroscience, 2015. Online

Carreno, FR., Shah, A., Frazer, A. and Lodge, DJ. Involvement of the ventral hippocampus in the antidepressant-like effect of ketamine in rats ACNP 53rd meeting, Phoenix, AZ., USA, 2014

Carreno, FR., DeGuzman, M., Shah, A., Lodge, DJ. and Frazer, A. Involvement of the ventral hippocampus in the antidepressant-like effect of ketamine: Behavioral and optogenetic studies Program No. 425.10. Neuroscience Meeting Planner – Washington, DC: Society for Neuroscience, 2014 – Online

Carreno, FR., Frazer, A. and Lodge D. Involvement of the ventral hippocampus ascending pathway to the medial prefrontal cortex in the antidepressant-like effect of ketamine in rats 21st Annual Department of Pharmacology Graduate Student Symposium, San Antonio, TX., USA, Oct. 2014