Lawrence H Lazarus

National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, Durham, North Carolina, United States

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Publications (165)674.78 Total impact

  • [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Analogues of endomorphin (Dmt-Pro-Xaa-Xaa-NH2) modified at position 4 or at positions 4 and 3, and tripeptides (Dmt-Pro-Xaa-NH2) modified at position 3, with various phenylalanine analogues (Xaa=Trp, 1-Nal, 2-Nal, Tmp, Dmp, Dmt) were synthesized and their effects on in vitro opioid activity were investigated. Most of the peptides exhibited high μ-opioid (MOP) receptor binding affinity (KiMOP=0.13-0.81nM), modest MOP-selectivity (Kiδ-opioid (DOP)/KiMOP=3.5-316), and potent functional MOP agonism (GPI, IC50=0.274-249nM) without DOP and κ-opioid (KOP) receptor agonism. Among them, compounds 7 (Dmt-Pro-Tmp-Tmp-NH2) and 9 (Dmt-Pro-1-Nal-NH2) were opioids with potent mixed MOP receptor agonism/DOP receptor antagonism and devoid of β-arrestin2 recruitment activity. They may offer a unique template for the discovery of potent analgesics that produce less respiratory depression, less gastrointestinal dysfunction and that have a lower propensity to induce tolerance and dependence compared with morphine.
    Bioorganic & medicinal chemistry 02/2014; 22(7). DOI:10.1016/j.bmc.2014.02.015 · 2.95 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Activation of delta-opioid receptors (DOR) is neuroprotective against hypoxic/ischemic injury in the cortex, which is at least partially related to its action against hypoxic/ischemic disruption of ionic homeostasis that triggers neuronal injury. Na(+) influx through TTX-sensitive voltage-gated Na(+) channels may be a main mechanism for hypoxia-induced disruption of K(+) homeostasis, with DOR activation attenuating the disruption of ionic homeostasis by targeting voltage-gated Na(+) channels. In the present study we examined the role of DOR in the regulation of Na(+) influx in anoxia and simulated ischemia (oxygen-glucose deprivation) as well as the effect of DOR activation on the Na(+) influx induced by a Na(+) channel opener without anoxic/ischemic stress and explored a potential PKC mechanism underlying the DOR action. We directly measured extracellular Na(+) activity in mouse cortical slices with Na(+) selective electrodes and found that (1) anoxia-induced Na(+) influx occurred mainly through TTX-sensitive Na(+) channels; (2) DOR activation inhibited the anoxia/ischemia-induced Na(+) influx; (3) veratridine, a Na(+) channel opener, enhanced the anoxia-induced Na(+) influx; this could be attenuated by DOR activation; (4) DOR activation did not reduce the anoxia-induced Na(+) influx in the presence of chelerythrine, a broad-spectrum PKC blocker; and (5) DOR effects were blocked by PKCβII peptide inhibitor, and PKCθ pseudosubstrate inhibitor, respectively. We conclude that DOR activation inhibits anoxia-induced Na(+) influx through Na(+) channels via PKC (especially PKCβII and PKCθ isoforms) dependent mechanisms in the cortex.
    Experimental Neurology 05/2012; 236(2):228-39. DOI:10.1016/j.expneurol.2012.05.006 · 4.62 Impact Factor
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    Lawrence H Lazarus · Yoshio Okada
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    ABSTRACT: INTRODUCTION: Although endomorphins-1 (EM-1; H-Tyr-Pro-Phe-Trp-NH(2)) and -2 (EM-2; H-Tyr-Pro-Phe-Phe-NH(2)) are primarily considered agonists for the μ-opioid receptor (MOR), systematic alterations to specific residues provided antagonists and ligands with mixed μ/δ-opioid properties, suitable for application to health-related topics. While the application of endomorphins as antinociceptive agents and numerous biological endpoints were experimentally delineated in laboratory animals and in vitro, clinical use is currently absent. However, structural alterations provide enhanced stability; formation of MOR antagonists or mixed and dual μ/δ-acting ligands could find considerable therapeutic potential. AREAS COVERED: This review attempts to succinctly provide insight on the development and bioactivity of endomorphin analogues during the past decade. Rational design approaches will focus on the engineering of endomorphin agonists, antagonists and mixed ligands for their application as a multi-target ligand. EXPERT OPINION: Aside from alleviating pain, EM analogues open new horizons in the treatment of medical syndromes involving neural reward mechanisms and extraneural regulation effects on homeostasis. Highly selective MOR antagonists may be promising to reduce inflammation, attenuate addiction to drugs and excess consumption of high-caloric food, ameliorate alcoholism, affect the immune system and combat opioid bowel dysfunction.
    Expert Opinion on Therapeutic Patents 01/2012; 22(1):1-14. DOI:10.1517/13543776.2012.646261 · 3.44 Impact Factor
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    Yoshio Okada · Yuko Tsuda · Severo Salvadori · Lawrence H. Lazarus
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    ABSTRACT: Morphine, which is agonist for μ-opioid receptors, has been used as an anti-pain drug for millennia. The opiate antagonists, naloxone and naltrexone, derived from morphine, were employed for drug addiction and alcohol abuse. However, these exogenous agonists and antagonists exhibit numerous and unacceptable side effects. Of the endogenous opioid peptides, endomorphin(EM)-1 and endomorphin(EM)-2 with their high μ-receptor affinity and exceptionally high selectivity relative to δ- and κ-receptors in vitro and in vivo provided a sufficiently sequence-flexible entity in order to prepare opioid-based drugs. We took advantage of this unique feature of the endomorphins by exchanging the N-terminal residue Tyr1 with 2′,6′-dimethyl-l-tyrosine (Dmt) to increase their stability and the spectrum of bioactivity. We systematically altered specific residues of [Dmt1]EM-1 and [Dmt1]EM-2 to produce various analogues. Of these analogues, [N-allyl-Dmt1]EM-1 (47) and [N-allyl-Dmt1]EM-2 (48) exhibited potent and selective antagonism to μ-receptors: they completely inhibited naloxone- and naltrexone-induced withdrawal from following acute morphine dependency in mice and reversed the alcohol-induced changes observed in sIPSC in hippocampal slices. Overall, we developed novel and efficacious opioid drugs without deleterious side effects that were able to resist enzymatic degradation and were readily transported intact through epithelial membranes in the gastrointestinal tract and the blood-brain-barrier.
    01/2012; 2012. DOI:10.1155/2012/715123
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    Yuan Feng · Xiaozhou He · Yilin Yang · Dongman Chao · Lawrence H Lazarus · Ying Xia
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    ABSTRACT: The use of opioid analgesics has a long history in clinical settings, although the comprehensive action of opioid receptors is still less understood. Nonetheless, recent studies have generated fresh insights into opioid receptor-mediated functions and their underlying mechanisms. Three major opioid receptors (μ-opioid receptor, MOR; δ-opioid receptor, DOR; and κ-opioid receptor, KOR) have been cloned in many species. Each opioid receptor is functionally sub-classified into several pharmacological subtypes, although, specific gene corresponding each of these receptor subtypes is still unidentified as only a single gene has been isolated for each opioid receptor. In addition to pain modulation and addiction, opioid receptors are widely involved in various physiological and pathophysiological activities, including the regulation of membrane ionic homeostasis, cell proliferation, emotional response, epileptic seizures, immune function, feeding, obesity, respiratory and cardiovascular control as well as some neurodegenerative disorders. In some species, they play an essential role in hibernation. One of the most exciting findings of the past decade is the opioid-receptor, especially DOR, mediated neuroprotection and cardioprotection. The upregulation of DOR expression and DOR activation increase the neuronal tolerance to hypoxic/ischemic stress. The DOR signal triggers (depending on stress duration and severity) different mechanisms at multiple levels to preserve neuronal survival, including the stabilization of homeostasis and increased pro-survival signaling (e.g., PKC-ERK-Bcl 2) and antioxidative capacity. In the heart, PKC and KATP channels are involved in the opioid receptor-mediated cardioprotection. The DOR-mediated neuroprotection and cardioprotection have the potential to significantly alter the clinical pharmacology in terms of prevention and treatment of life-threatening conditions like stroke and myocardial infarction. The main purpose of this article is to review the recent work done on opioids and their receptor functions. It shall provide an informative reference for better understanding the opioid system and further elucidation of the opioid receptor function from a physiological and pharmacological point of view.
    Current drug targets 12/2011; 13(2):230-46. DOI:10.2174/138945012799201612 · 3.60 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Analogues of endomorphin and tripeptides modified at positions 4 and 3, respectively, with various phenylalanine analogues were synthesized and their affinities for opioid receptors were evaluated. Most of the peptides exhibited potent μ-receptor affinity and selectivity, among them, compound 7 (Dmt-Pro-Tmp-Tmp-NH2) exhibited potent affinity for both μ- and δ-receptors (Kiμ=0.47nmol/L, Kiδ=1.63nmol/L).
    Chinese Chemical Letters 08/2011; 22(8):907-910. DOI:10.1016/j.cclet.2011.01.035 · 1.18 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Bifunctional ligands containing an ester linkage between morphine and the δ-selective pharmacophore Dmt-Tic were synthesized, and their binding affinity and functional bioactivity at the μ, δ and κ opioid receptors determined. Bifunctional ligands containing or not a spacer of β-alanine between the two pharmacophores lose the μ agonism deriving from morphine becoming partial μ agonists 4 or μ antagonists 5. Partial κ agonism is evidenced only for compound 4. Finally, both compounds showed potent δ antagonism.
    European Journal of Medicinal Chemistry 02/2011; 46(2):799-803. DOI:10.1016/j.ejmech.2010.12.001 · 3.43 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Here we evaluated how the interchange of the amino acids 2',6'-dimethyl-L-tyrosine (Dmt), 2',6'-difluoro-L-tyrosine (Dft), and tyrosine in position 1 can affect the pharmacological characterization of some reference opioid peptides and pseudopeptides. Generally, Dft and Tyr provide analogues with a similar pharmacological profile, despite different pK(a) values. Dmt/Tyr(Dft) replacement gives activity changes depending on the reference opioid in which the modification was made. Whereas, H-Dmt-Tic-Asp *-Bid is a potent and selective delta agonist (MVD, IC(50)=0.12nM); H-Dft-Tic-Asp *-Bid and H-Tyr-Tic-Asp *-Bid are potent and selective delta antagonists (pA(2)=8.95 and 8.85, respectively). When these amino acids are employed in the synthesis of deltorphin B and its Dmt(1) and Dft(1) analogues, the three compounds maintain a very similar delta agonism (MVD, IC(50) 0.32-0.53 nM) with a decrease in selectivity relative to the Dmt(1) analogue. In the less selective H-Dmt-Tic-Gly *-Bid the replacement of Dmt with Dft and Tyr retains the delta agonism but with a decrease in potency. Antagonists containing the Dmt-Tic pharmacophore do not support the exchange of Dmt with Dft or Tyr.
    Bioorganic & medicinal chemistry 08/2010; 18(16):6024-30. DOI:10.1016/j.bmc.2010.06.073 · 2.95 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: ChemInform is a weekly Abstracting Service, delivering concise information at a glance that was extracted from about 100 leading journals. To access a ChemInform Abstract of an article which was published elsewhere, please select a “Full Text” option. The original article is trackable via the “References” option.
    ChemInform 03/2010; 30(12). DOI:10.1002/chin.199912210
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    ABSTRACT: The dimerization and trimerization of the Dmt-Tic, Dmt-Aia and Dmt-Aba pharmacophores provided multiple ligands which were evaluated in vitro for opioid receptor binding and functional activity. Whereas the Tic- and Aba multimers proved to be dual and balanced delta/mu antagonists, as determined by the functional [S(35)]GTPgammaS binding assay, the dimerization of potent Aia-based 'parent' ligands unexpectedly resulted in substantial less efficient receptor binding and non-active dimeric compounds.
    Bioorganic & medicinal chemistry letters 03/2010; 20(5):1610-3. DOI:10.1016/j.bmcl.2010.01.055 · 2.33 Impact Factor
  • [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: ChemInform is a weekly Abstracting Service, delivering concise information at a glance that was extracted from about 100 leading journals. To access a ChemInform Abstract of an article which was published elsewhere, please select a “Full Text” option. The original article is trackable via the “References” option.
    ChemInform 02/2010; 31(7). DOI:10.1002/chin.200007177
  • [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: ChemInform is a weekly Abstracting Service, delivering concise information at a glance that was extracted from about 100 leading journals. To access a ChemInform Abstract of an article which was published elsewhere, please select a “Full Text” option. The original article is trackable via the “References” option.
    ChemInform 02/2010; 31(6). DOI:10.1002/chin.200006204
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    Yuan Feng · Dongman Chao · Xiaozhou He · Yilin Yang · Xuezhi Kang · Lawrence H Lazarus · Ying Xia
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: The use of opioid analgesics has a long history in clinical settings, although the functions of opioid receptors, especially their role in the brain, are not well understood yet. Recent studies have generated abundant new data on opioid receptor-mediated functions and the underlying mechanisms. The most exciting finding in the past decade is probably the neuroprotection against hypoxic/ischemic stress mediated by delta-opioid receptors (DOR). An up-regulation of DOR expression and the release of endogenous opioids may increase neuronal tolerance to hypoxic/ischemic stress. The DOR signal triggers, depending on stress duration and severity, different mechanisms at multiple levels to preserve neuronal survival, including the stabilization of ionic homeostasis, an increase in pro-survival signaling (e.g., PKC-ERK-Bcl 2) and the enhanced anti-oxidative capacity. Recent data on DOR-mediated neuroprotection provide us a new concept of neuroprotection against neurological disorders and have a potentially significant impact on the prevention and treatment of some serious neurological conditions, such as stroke.
    Sheng li xue bao: [Acta physiologica Sinica] 12/2009; 61(6):585-92.
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    ABSTRACT: Based on a renewed importance recently attributed to bi- or multifunctional opioids, we report the synthesis and pharmacological evaluation of some analogues derived from our lead μ agonist/δ antagonist, H-Dmt-Tic-Gly-NH-Bzl (Dmt = 2′,6′-dimethyl-l-tyrosine, Tic = 1,2,3,4-tetrahydroisoquinoline-3-carboxylic acid, Bzl = benzyl). Our previous studies focused on the importance of the C-teminal benzyl function in the induction of such bifunctional activity. The introduction of some substituents in the para position of the phenyl ring (−Cl, −CH3, partially −NO2, inactive −NH2) was found to give a more potent μ agonist/antagonist effect associated with a relatively unmodified δ antagonist activity (pA2 = 8.28−9.02). Increasing the steric hindrance of the benzyl group (using diphenylmethyl and tetrahydroisoquinoline functionalities) substantially maintained the μ agonist and δ antagonist activities of the lead compound. Finally and quite unexpectedly d-Tic2, considered as a wrong opioid message now, inserted into the reference compound in lieu of l-Tic provided a μ agonist/δ agonist better than our reference ligand (H-Dmt-Tic-Gly-NH-Ph; Ph = phenyl) and was endowed with the same pharmacological profile.
    ACS Chemical Neuroscience 11/2009; 1(2):155–164. DOI:10.1021/cn900025j · 4.21 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Orally active dual mu-/delta-opioid receptor antagonist, H-Dmt-Tic-Lys-NH-CH(2)-Ph (MZ-2) was applied to study body weight gain, fat content, bone mineral density, serum insulin, cholesterol and glucose levels in female ob/ob (B6.V-Lep /J homozygous) and lean wild mice with or without voluntary exercise on wheels for three weeks, and during a two week post-treatment period under the same conditions. MZ-2 (10mg/kg/day, p.o.) exhibited the following actions: (1) reduced body weight gain in sedentary obese mice that persisted beyond the treatment period without effect on lean mice; (2) stimulated voluntary running on exercise wheels of both groups of mice; (3) decreased fat content, enhanced bone mineral density (BMD), and decreased serum insulin and glucose levels in obese mice; and (4) MZ-2 (30 microM) increased BMD in human osteoblast cells (MG-63) comparable to naltrexone, while morphine inhibited mineral nodule formation. Thus, MZ-2 has potential application in the clinical management of obesity, insulin and glucose levels, and the amelioration of osteoporosis.
    European journal of pharmacology 09/2009; 616(1-3):115-21. DOI:10.1016/j.ejphar.2009.06.041 · 2.68 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Hypoxic/ischemic disruption of ionic homeostasis is a critical trigger of neuronal injury/death in the brain. There is, however, no promising strategy against such pathophysiologic change to protect the brain from hypoxic/ischemic injury. Here, we present a novel finding that activation of delta-opioid receptors (DOR) reduced anoxic Na+ influx in the mouse cortex, which was completely blocked by DOR antagonism with naltrindole. Furthermore, we co-expressed DOR and Na+ channels in Xenopus oocytes and showed that DOR expression and activation indeed play an inhibitory role in Na+ channel regulation by decreasing the amplitude of sodium currents and increasing activation threshold of Na+ channels. Our results suggest that DOR protects from anoxic disruption of Na+ homeostasis via Na+ channel regulation. These data may potentially have significant impacts on understanding the intrinsic mechanism of neuronal responses to stress and provide clues for better solutions of hypoxic/ischemic encephalopathy, and for the exploration of acupuncture mechanism since acupuncture activates opioid system.
    Cellular and Molecular Life Sciences CMLS 09/2009; 66(21):3505-16. DOI:10.1007/s00018-009-0136-x · 5.86 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: To improve the structure-activity studies of the lead delta opioid agonist H-Dmt-Tic-Asp*-Bid, we synthesized and pharmacologically characterized a series of analogues in which the side chain next to 1H-benzimidazole-2-yl (Bid) was substituted by those endowed with different chemical properties. Interesting results were obtained: (1) only Gly, Ala, and Asp resulted in delta agonism, (2) Phe yielded delta antagonism, (3) and all other residues except Glu (devoid of any activity) gave mu agonism.
    Journal of Medicinal Chemistry 08/2009; 52(17):5556-9. DOI:10.1021/jm900686q · 5.48 Impact Factor
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    D Chao · G Balboni · L H Lazarus · S Salvadori · Y Xia
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    ABSTRACT: Activation of delta-opioid receptors (DOR) attenuates anoxic K(+) leakage and protects cortical neurons from anoxic insults by inhibiting Na(+) influx. It is unknown, however, which pathway(s) that mediates the Na(+) influx is the target of DOR signal. In the present work, we found that, in the cortex, (1) DOR protection was largely dependent on the inhibition of anoxic Na(+) influxes mediated by voltage-gated Na(+) channels; (2) DOR activation inhibited Na(+) influx mediated by ionotropic glutamate N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA) receptors, but not that by non-NMDA receptors, although both played a role in anoxic K(+) derangement; and (3) DOR activation had little effect on Na(+)/Ca(2+) exchanger-based response to anoxia. We conclude that DOR activation attenuates anoxic K(+) derangement by restricting Na(+) influx mediated by Na(+) channels and NMDA receptors, and that non-NMDA receptors and Na(+)/Ca(2+) exchangers, although involved in anoxic K(+) derangement in certain degrees, are less likely the targets of DOR signal.
    Cellular and Molecular Life Sciences CMLS 03/2009; 66(6):1105-15. DOI:10.1007/s00018-009-8759-5 · 5.86 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Replacement of the constrained phenylalanine analogue 1,2,3,4-tetrahydroisoquinoline-3-carboxylic acid (Tic) in the opioid Dmt-Tic-Gly-NH-Bn scaffold by the 4-amino-1,2,4,5-tetrahydro-indolo[2,3-c]azepin-3-one (Aia) and 4-amino-1,2,4,5-tetrahydro-2-benzazepin-3-one (Aba) scaffolds has led to the discovery of novel potent mu-selective agonists (Structures 5 and 12) as well as potent and selective delta-opioid receptor antagonists (Structures 9 and 15). Both stereochemistry and N-terminal N,N-dimethylation proved to be crucial factors for opioid receptor selectivity and functional bioactivity in the investigated small peptidomimetic templates. In addition to the in vitro pharmacological evaluation, automated docking models of Dmt-Tic and Dmt-Aba analogues were constructed in order to rationalize the observed structure-activity data.
    Bioorganic & medicinal chemistry letters 12/2008; 19(2):433-7. DOI:10.1016/j.bmcl.2008.11.051 · 2.33 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: We investigated the effects of [N-allyl-Dmt(1)]endomorphin-2 (TL-319), a novel and highly potent micro-opioid receptor antagonist, on ethanol (EtOH)-induced enhancement of GABA(A) receptor-mediated synaptic activity in the hippocampus. Evoked and spontaneous inhibitory postsynaptic currents (eIPSCs and sIPSCs) were isolated from CA1 pyramidal cells from brain slices of male rats using whole-cell patch-clamp techniques. TL-319 had no effect on the baseline amplitude of eIPSCs or the frequency of sIPSCs. However, it induced a dose-dependent suppression of an ethanol-induced increase of sIPSC frequency with full reversal at concentrations of 500 nM and higher. The non-specific competitive opioid receptor antagonist naltrexone also suppressed EtOH-induced increases in sIPSC frequency but only at a concentration of 60 microM. These data indicate that blockade of micro-opioid receptors by low concentrations of [N-allyl-Dmt(1)]endomorphin-2 can reverse ethanol-induced increases in GABAergic neurotransmission and possibly alter its anxiolytic or sedative effects. This suggests the possibility that high potency opioid antagonists may emerge as possible candidate compounds for the treatment of ethanol addiction.
    Alcohol and Alcoholism 11/2008; 44(1):13-9. DOI:10.1093/alcalc/agn085 · 2.09 Impact Factor

Publication Stats

3k Citations
674.78 Total Impact Points


  • 1980–2014
    • National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences
      • Laboratory of Toxicology and Pharmacology (LTP)
      Durham, North Carolina, United States
  • 1999–2010
    • Kobe Gakuin University
      • • Faculty of Pharmaceutical Sciences
      • • The Graduate School of Food and Medicinal Sciences
      Kōbe, Hyōgo, Japan
  • 2002–2008
    • Università degli studi di Cagliari
      • PhD School in Toxicology
      Cagliari, Sardinia, Italy
  • 2007
    • University of Iowa
      Iowa City, Iowa, United States
  • 2006
    • University of Santiago de Compostela
      • Departamento de Química Orgánica
      Santiago de Compostela, Galicia, Spain
    • McLean Hospital
      • Alcohol and Drug Abuse Research Center
      Boston, MA, United States
  • 1991–1999
    • Universita degli studi di Ferrara
      • Department of Chemical and Pharmaceutical Sciences
      Ferrara, Emilia-Romagna, Italy
  • 1986
    • National Environmental Engineering Research Institute
      Ajni, Maharashtra, India
    • Karolinska Institutet
      Solna, Stockholm, Sweden
    • Research Triangle Park Laboratories, Inc.
      Raleigh, North Carolina, United States