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Sergio Dominguez Lopez, PhD

Academic Title:

Assistant Professor

Primary Appointment:


Education and Training

  • Univerity of Veracruz, BS (Licenciature), Chemical-Pharmaceutical-Biology, 2003.
  • University of Veracruz, MS, Neuroethology, 2006.
  • McGill University, PhD, Neuroscience, 2014.
  • University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio, Postdoctoral Fellow, 2017.
  • Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation, Postdoctoral Researcher, 2020.


I obtained my B.Sc. in Chemical-Pharmaceutical-Biology and my M.Sc. in Neuroethology from the University of Veracruz, Mexico. I received my Ph.D. degree from the Neuroscience Program of McGill University in Montreal, Canada, working under the supervision of Dr. Marco Leyton and Dr. Gabriella Gobbi.

 In my Ph.D. research, I discovered and described daily rhythms in the firing activity of serotonin and dopamine neurons using single-unit extracellular recordings in anesthetized rats. Before graduating, I worked as visiting researcher at the University of Montreal, under the mentorship of Dr. Laurent Decarries and Dr. Sandra Boye. Here, I studied the cellular anatomy of monoamine neurons and the dorsal diencephalic conducting system as an alternative reward circuit.

 In 2014, I moved to the US to work with Dr. Michael Beckstead, first at the University of Texas Health Science Center (UTHSCSA) and then at the Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation (OMRF). In my postdoctoral research, I started studying the effects of psychostimulants in the dopaminergic system using mice models of operant drug self-administration.

 I started working under the mentorship of Dr. Mary Kay Lobo and joined her lab in the Summer of 2021. My research interest is to understand how brain circuits are modified by abused substances, characterizing the molecular and metabolic changes that shape compulsive-seeking behavior.

Research/Clinical Keywords

Drug abuse, addiction, self-administration, dopamine, serotonin, brain circuits, mitochondria, metabolism, genetics, molecular targets, neuroscience, methamphetamine, cocaine, brain circuits, pain, monoaminergic, ventral tegmental area, dorsal raphe, neurodegeneration.

Highlighted Publications

  • Dominguez-Lopez S, Mahar I, Bambico FR, Labonte B, Ochoa-Sanchez R, Leyton M, Gobbi G. Short term effects of melatonin and pinealectomy on serotonergic neuronal activity across the light-dark cycle. J Psychopharmacol. 2012 Jun; 26(6):830-844.
  • Dominguez-Lopez S, Howell R, Gobbi G. Characterization of serotonin neurotransmission in knockout mice: Implications for major depression. Rev Neurosci. 2012 Aug; 23(4): 429-443.
  • Dominguez-Lopez S, Howell RD, López-Canúl MG, Leyton M, Gobbi G. Electrophysiological characterization of dopamine neuronal activity in the ventral tegmental area across the light-dark cycle. 2014 Oct; 68(10): 454-467.
  • Dominguez-Lopez S, Piccart E, Lynch WB, Wollet MB, Sharpe AL, Beckstead MJ. Antagonism of neurotensin receptors in the ventral tegmental area decreases methamphetamine self-administration and methamphetamine seeking in mice. Int J Neuropsychopharmacol. 2018 Apr; 21(4): 361-370.
  • Dominguez-Lopez S, Sharma R, Beckstead MJ. Neurotensin receptor 1 deletion suppresses methamphetamine self-administration and the associated reduction in dopamine cell firing. Addict Biol. 2021 Jan; 26(1): e12854.

Additional Publication Citations


  • Bambico FR, Cassano T, Dominguez-Lopez S, Katz N, Walker CD, Piomelli D, Gobbi G. Genetic deletion of fatty acid amide hydrolase alters emotional behaviour and serotonergic transmission in the dorsal raphe, prefrontal cortex, and hippocampus. Neuropsychopharmacology. 2010 Sep; 35(10): 2083-100. 
  • Mahar I, Tan S, Davoli MA, Dominguez-Lopez S, Qiang C, Rachalski A, Turecki G, Mechawar N. Subchronic peripheral neuregulin-1 increases ventral hippocampal neurogenesis and induces antidepressant-like effects. PLoS One. 2011 Oct; 6(10): e26610.
  • Ochoa-Sanchez R, Comai S, Lacoste B, Bambico FR, Dominguez-Lopez S, Spadoni G, Rivara S, Bedini A, Angeloni D, Fraschini F, Mor M, Tarzia G, Descarries L, Gobbi G. Promotion of NREM sleep and activation of reticular thalamic neurons by a novel MT2 melatonin receptor ligand. J Neurosci. 2011 Dec; 31(50): 18439-18452. 
  • Morales-Medina J, Dominguez-Lopez S, Gobbi G, Beck-Sickinger A, Quirion R. The selective neuropeptide Y Y5 agonist [cPP1–7, NPY19–23, Ala31, Aib32, Gln34]hPP differently modulates emotional processes and body weight in the rat. Behav Brain Res. 2012 Aug; 233(2): 298- 304.
  • Labonte B, McLaughlin R, Dominguez-Lopez S, Bambico FR, Lucchino I, Ochoa-Sanchez R, Leyton M, Gobbi G. Adolescent amphetamine exposure elicits dose-specific effects on monoaminergic neurotransmission and behavior in adulthood. Int J Neuropsychopharmacol. 2012 Oct; 15(9): 1319-1330. 
  • Rainer Q, Speziali S, Rubino T, Dominguez-Lopez S, Bambico F, Gobbi G, Parolaro D. Chronic nandrolone decanoate exposure during adolescence affects emotional behavior and monoaminergic neurotransmission in adulthood. 2014 Aug; 83: 79-88.
  • Comai S, Ochoa-Sanchez R, Dominguez-Lopez S, Bambico FR and Gobbi G. Melancholic-like behaviors and circadian neurobiological abnormalities in melatonin MT1 receptor knockout mice. Int J Neuropsychopharmacol. 2015 Jan; 18(3): pii; pyu075.
  • Lopez-Canul M, Palazzo E, Dominguez-Lopez S, Luongo L, Lacoste B, Comai S, Angeloni D, Fraschini F, Boccella S, Spadoni G, Bedini A, Tarzia G, Maione S, Granados-Soto V, Gobbi G. Selective melatonin MT2 receptor ligands relieve neuropathic pain through modulation of brainstem descending antinociceptive pathways. 2015 Feb;156(2): 305-317.
  • Lacoste B, Angeloni D, Dominguez-Lopez S, Calderoni S, Mauro A, Fraschini F, Descarries L, Gobbi G. Anatomical and cellular localization of melatonin MT1 and MT2 receptors in the adult rat brain. J Pineal Res. 2015 May; 58(4): 397-417.
  • López-Canul M, Comai S, Dominguez-Lopez S, Granados-Soto V, Gobbi G. Antinociceptive properties of selective (MT)2 melatonin receptor partial agonist. Eur J Pharmacol. 2015 Oct; 764: 424-432.
  • McCall NM, Kotecki L, Dominguez-Lopez S, Marron Fernandez de Velasco E, Carlblom N, Sharpe AL, Beckstead MJ, Wickman K. Selective ablation of GIRK2 channels in dopamine neurons enhances behavioral effects of cocaine in mice. Neuropsychopharmacology. 2017 Feb; 42(3): 707-715.
  • Posa L, Lopez-Canul M, Rullo L, De Gregorio D, Dominguez-Lopez S, Kaba Aboud M, Caputi FF, Candeletti S, Romualdi P, Gobbi G. Nociceptive responses in melatonin MT2 receptor knockout mice compared to MT1 and double MT1 / MT2 receptor knockout mice. J Pineal Res. 2020 Oct; 69(3): e12671. 
  • Howell RD, Dominguez-Lopez S, Ocañas S, Freeman WM and Beckstead MJ. Female mice are resilient to age-related decline of substantia nigra dopamine neuron firing parameters. Neurobiol. Aging. 2020 Nov; 95: 195-204.