Mark A. Geyer Ph.D. is Distinguished Professor of Psychiatry and Neurosciences Emeritus at the University of California San Diego (UCSD) and directs the Neuropsychopharmacology Unit of the VISN 22 Veterans Administration Mental Illness Research, Clinical, and Education Center. Since receiving his doctorate in Psychology in 1972, he has focused on basic research addressing psychotic disorders and the related behavioral and neurobiological effects of psychedelics and other psychoactive drugs. For four decades, his group has had continuous funding from the National Institute on Drug Abuse to study the behavioral effects of psychedelics and entactogens. At UCSD, he is a founding member of the Consortium for Translational Research in Neuropsychopharmacology (CTRIN) and Translational Research in Psychophysiology, Exploration, and Cognition (TRIPEC) groups. In 1993, he co-founded the Heffter Research Institute, which pioneered and supported much of the scientific research that has prompted the exploration of psychedelics as potential therapeutics in humans. He has recently co-founded the Psychedelics and Health Research Initiative at UCSD, which is exploring the efficacy of psychedelics in the treatment of pain disorders. Dr. Geyer is respected internationally for his research on the psychophysiology, neurobiology, and pharmacotherapy of schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. He has published 470+ peer-reviewed papers and 50+ reviews, including many addressing the mechanisms subserving the effects of antipsychotics, psychostimulants, psychedelics, and entactogens. He is the lead Series Editor for Current Topics in Behavioral Neurosciences, which has completed 43+ volumes. He was involved intensively in the NIMH-funded MATRICS, TURNS, and CNTRICS Programs and has served as a receiving Editor of Neuropsychopharmacology, Neuropharmacology, Psychopharmacology, and Schizophrenia Bulletin, and as Scientific Advisor to European Union’s Innovative Medicine Initiative. He is a Fellow of AAAS, American College of Neuropsychopharmacology (ACNP), and American Psychological Society, Past-President of the International Society for Serotonin Research and the International Behavioral Neuroscience Society, member of Scientific Council of the Brain and Behavior Research Foundation (aka NARSAD), 2011 awardee of Bleuler Prize for Research in the Schizophrenias, and the 2014 Julius Axelrod Mentorship Awardee from ACNP. Dr. Geyer's broad experience as a researcher, grant reviewer, journal editor, and teacher lends invaluable scientific and professional expertise to several organizations, as he provides leadership to develop strong programs in the behavioral psychopharmacology and clinical applications of psychoactive agents.
Dr. Geyer’s research has long focused on developing parallel behavioral paradigms in animals and humans for use in psychiatric drug discovery. For example, working with Dr. David Braff, Dr. Geyer published the first study demonstrating that prepulse inhibition (PPI) of startle, a measure of sensorimotor gating, is disrupted in schizophrenic patients in 1978. Since then, research in his laboratory has shown that PPI in animals is disrupted by a number of agents that are psychoactive in humans and in a number of lines of mutant mice. These findings led to the acceptance of PPI as an animal model related to schizophrenia and bipolar mania that reflects aspects of the disease states observed in patients. The CTRIN translational group currently includes five faculty members, Drs. Susan Powell, Victoria Risbrough, Xianjin Zhou, Jared Young, and Adam Halberstadt. In addition, the TRIPEC group includes Drs. William Perry and Arpi Minassian. Our combined laboratories use behavioral, psychophysiological, and cognitive measures combined with psychopharmacological manipulations in rodents and humans to examine the roles of neurotransmitters in behavior, to develop animal models of human drug effects, and to explore information-processing deficits in psychiatric disorders. We use startle measures of habituation, prepulse inhibition, anxiety potentiation, and fear extinction that are deficient in psychiatric disorders and can be mimicked in rodents by pharmacological, developmental, and genetic manipulations. Dr. Geyer has developed a Behavioral Pattern Monitor for use in rats, mice, and humans. These systems provide cross-species translational and multivariate assessments of spatio-temporal patterns of exploratory behavior and are being used in comparisons of schizophrenia and bipolar mania in relationship to corresponding animal models and the effects of psychostimulants in human volunteers. We have explored the effects of classical hallucinogens, dopaminergic psychostimulants, and both direct and indirect serotonin agonists to elucidate their respective mechanisms of action and to reveal the involvement of specific monoamine systems and receptors in behavioral responses to environmental stimuli and in processes such as arousal, habituation, and sensorimotor gating. Animal models of interest in the laboratory include pharmacological manipulations, a variety of developmental perturbations, and genetic models involving strain comparisons, knockouts, and humanized mutant mice, most of which are related to psychotic and/or stress-related disorders. A current focus of the laboratory is the continued development of murine tests of specific cognitive domains relevant to the MATRICS and CNTRICS efforts to treat cognitive deficits in psychiatric disorders