Davide Dulcis

Title(s)Associate Professor, Psychiatry
SchoolHealth Sciences
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    Dr. Dulcis received his B.S. from University of Cagliari in Italy double majoring in Physiology and Biology. While earning his Ph.D. from University of Arizona in Neuroscience, he illustrated the role of neurotransmitters in cardiac function of neurogenic invertebrate hearts. During his post-doctoral training in the Neurobiology department at UC San Diego, he expanded his research repertoire to include activity-dependent and circuit-specific respecification of neurotransmitters affecting behavior. His research at UCSD led to the discovery that the transmitters expressed in neurons can be respecified by sensory stimuli, with matching respecification of postsynaptic receptor expression and associated changes in behavior (Nature, 2008; Science, 2013). He joined the Department of Psychiatry as Principal Investigator in January 2015. Research projects in his laboratory implement an interdisciplinary approach to identify activity-regulated genes involved in neurotransmitter plasticity which evolved to accommodate behaviors and that could provide new therapeutic strategies with translational application in a number of neurological conditions including mood disorders and drug abuse.

    Research Interests

    Dr. Dulcis' research projects focus on circuit-specific respecification of neurotransmitters in the developing and adult brain. His studies have shown that altering the activation of a simple neural circuit in the postembryonic brain by a natural stimulus (ambient light) changes the numbers of neurons expressing dopamine (Nature, 2008).

    Significantly, Dr. Dulcis found that newly dopaminergic neurons serve the same behavior as the native population of dopaminergic neurons. He recently discovered behaviorally relevant transmitter switching in the mature nervous system (Science, 2013).

    In his laboratory, Dr. Dulcis is testing the generality of this novel form of calcium activity-dependent plasticity (J. Neuroscience, 2011). He hypothesizes that other sensory modalities as well as psychostimulants, induce transmitter switching in neurons of the activated circuits affecting behavior (Develop. Neurobiology, 2012).

    Dr. Dulcis is currently carrying out studies to test whether selective circuit activation promotes transmitter respecification affecting behaviors in translational animal models relevant for a variety of neuropsychiatric conditions including depression (Europ. J. Pharmacology, 2015) and addiction.

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    Developmental Nicotine Exposure: Neurotransmitter Plasticity & Drug Abuse
    TRDRP 27IR-0020Apr 1, 2018 - Mar 31, 2021
    Role: Principal Investigator
    Analysis of Activity Dependent Mechanisms of Neuronal Differentiation
    NIH/NINDS R01NS057690Dec 1, 2014 - Jan 31, 2020
    Role: Principal Investigator

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    Publications listed below are automatically derived from MEDLINE/PubMed and other sources, which might result in incorrect or missing publications. Researchers can login to make corrections and additions, or contact us for help.
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    1. Young JW, Cope ZA, Romoli B, Schrurs E, Joosen A, van Enkhuizen J, Sharp RF, Dulcis D. Evidence for light-entrainment-induced switching between depression- & mania-relevant behaviors in mice. Neuropsychopharmacology. 2019 Feb 20. PMID: 30787425.
      View in: PubMed
    2. Tsang TK, Bushong EA, Boassa D, Hu J, Romoli B, Phan S, Dulcis D, Su CY, Ellisman MH. High-quality ultrastructural preservation using cryofixation for 3D electron microscopy of genetically labeled tissues. Elife. 2018 May 11; 7. PMID: 29749931.
      View in: PubMed
    3. Porcu A, Riddle M, Dulcis D, Welsh DK. Photoperiod-Induced Neuroplasticity in the Circadian System. Neural Plast. 2018; 2018:5147585. PMID: 29681926.
      View in: PubMed
    4. Faget L, Zell V, Souter E, McPherson A, Ressler R, Gutierrez-Reed N, Yoo JH, Dulcis D, Hnasko TS. Opponent control of behavioral reinforcement by inhibitory and excitatory projections from the ventral pallidum. Nat Commun. 2018 02 27; 9(1):849. PMID: 29487284.
      View in: PubMed
    5. Young JW, Cope ZA, Romoli B, Schrurs E, van Enkhuizen J, Sharp RF, Dulcis D. Mice with reduced DAT levels recreate seasonal-induced switching between states in bipolar disorder. Neuropsychopharmacology. 2018 07; 43(8):1721-1731. PMID: 29520059.
      View in: PubMed
    6. Dulcis D, Lippi G, Stark CJ, Do LH, Berg DK, Spitzer NC. Neurotransmitter Switching Regulated by miRNAs Controls Changes in Social Preference. Neuron. 2017 Sep 13; 95(6):1319-1333.e5. PMID: 28867550.
      View in: PubMed
    7. Kesby JP, Najera JA, Romoli B, Fang Y, Basova L, Birmingham A, Marcondes MCG, Dulcis D, Semenova S. HIV-1 TAT protein enhances sensitization to methamphetamine by affecting dopaminergic function. Brain Behav Immun. 2017 Oct; 65:210-221. PMID: 28495611.
      View in: PubMed
    8. Davide Dulcis.Davide Dulcis, Guest Editor. Neurotransmitter Plasticity/Special Issue. 2016; 73:1-42.
    9. Dulcis D. The ever-changing brain: Clinical implications. J Chem Neuroanat. 2016 Apr; 73:1-2. PMID: 26535467.
      View in: PubMed
    10. Young JW, Dulcis D. Investigating the mechanism(s) underlying switching between states in bipolar disorder. Eur J Pharmacol. 2015 Jul 15; 759:151-62. PMID: 25814263; PMCID: PMC4437855.
    11. Dulcis D, Jamshidi P, Leutgeb S, Spitzer NC. Neurotransmitter switching in the adult brain regulates behavior. Science. 2013 Apr 26; 340(6131):449-53. PMID: 23620046.
      View in: PubMed
    12. Dulcis D, Spitzer NC. Reserve pool neuron transmitter respecification: Novel neuroplasticity. Dev Neurobiol. 2012 Apr; 72(4):465-74. PMID: 21595049; PMCID: PMC3192250.
    13. Velázquez-Ulloa NA, Spitzer NC, Dulcis D. Contexts for dopamine specification by calcium spike activity in the CNS. J Neurosci. 2011 Jan 05; 31(1):78-88. PMID: 21209192; PMCID: PMC3080040.
    14. Dulcis D, Spitzer NC. Illumination controls differentiation of dopamine neurons regulating behaviour. Nature. 2008 Nov 13; 456(7219):195-201. PMID: 19005547; PMCID: PMC2803045.
    15. Dulcis D, Levine RB, Ewer J. Role of the neuropeptide CCAP in Drosophila cardiac function. J Neurobiol. 2005 Sep 05; 64(3):259-74. PMID: 15898062.
      View in: PubMed
    16. Dulcis D, Levine RB. Glutamatergic innervation of the heart initiates retrograde contractions in adult Drosophila melanogaster. J Neurosci. 2005 Jan 12; 25(2):271-80. PMID: 15647470.
      View in: PubMed
    17. Dulcis D, Levine RB. Remodeling of a larval skeletal muscle motoneuron to drive the posterior cardiac pacemaker in the adult moth, Manduca sexta. J Comp Neurol. 2004 Oct 11; 478(2):126-42. PMID: 15349974.
      View in: PubMed
    18. Dulcis D, Levine RB. Innervation of the heart of the adult fruit fly, Drosophila melanogaster. J Comp Neurol. 2003 Oct 27; 465(4):560-78. PMID: 12975816.
      View in: PubMed
    19. Dulcis D, Davis NT, Hildebrand JG. Neuronal control of heart reversal in the hawkmoth Manduca sexta. J Comp Physiol A. 2001 Dec; 187(10):837-49. PMID: 11800040.
      View in: PubMed
    20. Davis NT, Dulcis D, Hildebrand JG. Innervation of the heart and aorta of Manduca sexta. J Comp Neurol. 2001 Nov 19; 440(3):245-60. PMID: 11745621.
      View in: PubMed
    21. Angioy AM, Boassa D, Dulcis D. Functional morphology of the dorsal vessel in the adult fly Protophormia terraenovae (diptera, calliphoridae). J Morphol. 1999 Apr; 240(1):15-31. PMID: 29847884.
      View in: PubMed