Scott Edwards, Ph.D.

Associate Professor of Physiology and Neuroscience
Associate Director, NIAAA T32 Training Program
Physiology Graduate Program Coordinator
Comprehensive Alcohol-HIV/AIDS Research Center
NIH R25 Blueprint Program for Enhancing Neuroscience Diversity 

Department of Physiology
1901 Perdido Street
New Orleans, LA 70112
Cell (619) 241-3380
Office (504) 568-2669
Fax (504) 568-6158

MEB Office: MEB 7208
MEB Biochemistry Lab: MEB 7273
MEB Behavior Lab: MEB 7264
Dental School Annex: 3549 & 3551

Dr. Edwards' CV


B.S. Biochemistry (2000)
The University of Texas at Austin

Ph.D. Neuroscience (2007)
UT Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas

Postdoctoral Fellowship
The Scripps Research Institute, La Jolla, CA


Dr. Edwards completed his PhD training in the Departments of Neuroscience and Psychiatry at the UT Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas with the support of an F31 predoctoral National Research Service Award (NRSA) from the National Institute on Drug Abuse. Afterwards, Scott joined the Committee on the Neurobiology of Addictive Disorders at The Scripps Research Institute where he was awarded an F32 postdoctoral NRSA fellowship and a K99/R00 Pathway to Independence award from the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. Dr. Edwards joined the Department of Physiology in 2013 and was promoted to Associate Professor with Tenure in 2019.

Research Interests

Research interests in our laboratory center around the investigation of neurobiological changes associated with altered motivational systems in drug and alcohol addiction.  Our research strategy is to first determine alterations in neuronal signaling following excessive drug or alcohol use, and then to investigate which neuroadaptations are most critically involved in driving excessive drug intake.  A closely associated goal is to understand signaling changes induced by re-exposure to drug- or stress-paired contexts and how these processes may contribute to relapse and other motivational disorders.  Our most recent focus is on the interaction of addiction and chronic pain.  Employing animal models of these conditions, we are investigating how inflammatory pain alters central reinforcement circuitry and motivated behavior.  

Our studies primarily measure protein- and phosphoprotein-level neuroadaptations in brain centers responsible for the establishment and maintenance of the addicted state.  We are able to manipulate molecular targets within specific brain regions through a variety of technologies, including viral-mediated gene overexpression and knockdown strategies.  These projects involve close collaboration with distinguished LSU Health and national investigators.

Recent Edwards Lab NIH Grants & Contracts:

NIH-NICHD-2018-05 (Edwards PI)
Preclinical Medications Screening in Dependence, Affect and Pain Models of Alcoholism
R01AA025996 (Edwards PI)
Vasopressin Signaling in Pain and Alcohol Dependence
R21AA025736 (Edwards PI)
Role of GluA1 in the Escalation of Alcohol Drinking in Nicotine-Dependent Animals 
F31AA025812 (McGinn PI)
Alcohol Dependence and Pain: Role of Cingulate Cortex Glucocorticoid Receptors 


Adrienne McGinn was awarded a prestigious Individual National Research Service Award from the NIH to support her investigation into glucocorticoid signaling in the prefrontal cortex and its contributions to chronic pain and alcohol dependence.  Dr. McGinn defended in 2019 and took a postdoctoral position at the National Institute on Drug Abuse.


Edwards Lab collecting the hardware at the 2018 Experimental Biology meeting in San Diego, California.  Adrienne McGinn was selected to present her research at the Erlanger Symposium, while Dr. Amanda Pahng received the CNS section's Research Recognition Award and presented her work in a symposium entitled Intersection of Central Pain and Reward Circuitry in CNS Disorders.


Research efforts on display during a wine tour before the Alcoholism & Stress Meeting in Volterra, Italy.


Teaching Activities

My teaching and educational scholarship opportunities have steadily grown to become a key part of my academic career, inspired by the wealth of opportunities and dedicated educators around the HSC.  I focus in the area of endocrine physiology, and my main teaching responsibilities occur within the School of Nursing (Nursing Physiology and Nursing Pathophysiology), School of Allied Health (Biological Systems), and School of Graduate Studies (Biological Systems and Endocrinology). 

Educational Scholarship







English R, Edwards S, Armstrong M, McDonough K, Molina P. 
Alcohol use disorder: An interprofessional case-based exercise.
MedEdPORTAL; 2014

Edwards S, Molina PE, McDonough K, Mercante DE, Gunaldo TP. 
Integrating an interprofessional education experience into a human physiology course. Journal of Physician Assistant Education; 2017 28: 146-148.

Edwards S, Molina PE, McDonough K, Mercante DE, Gunaldo TP. 
The potential of interprofessional education to effectively translate physiology curricula into future team-based healthcare. Advances in Physiology Education; 2018 42:354-359.

Harrison-Bernard LM, Nalijayan MV, Mercante DE, Gunaldo TP, Edwards S. Longitudinal interprofessional education in a graduate physiology course. Advances in Physiology Education; 2019 43:241-245.


Committees & Administrative Responsibilities

LSU Health-New Orleans Graduate Advisory Council
LSU Health-New Orleans SOM Internal Funding Review Panel
LSU Health-New Orleans NIAAA T35 Internal Advisory Committee
Board of Directors, Greater New Orleans Science and Engineering Fair
NIH CSR Early Career Reviewer
RSA Animal Research and Ethics Committee
APS Conference Committee (2017-2019)
APS Central Nervous System Section Steering Committee (2017-2019)


Selected Publications

Maxi JK, Mercante D, Foret B, Oberhelman S, Ferguson TF, Bagby GJ, Nelson S, Amedee AM, Edwards S, Simon L, Molina PE. Chronic Binge Alcohol-Associated Modulation of Growth Factor Signaling Pathways and Neuroinflammation in Simian Immunodeficiency Virus-Infected Male Macaques; Differential Brain-Region Modulation. Alcohol and Alcoholism In press.


Fucich EA, Mayeux JP, McGinn MA, Gilpin NW, Edwards S, Molina PE. A novel role for the endocannabinoid system in ameliorating motivation for alcohol drinking and negative behavioral affect following traumatic brain injury in rats.  Journal of Neurotrauma 2019 36:1847-1855.


Schreiber AL, McGinn MA, Edwards S, Gilpin NW.  Predator odor stress blunts alcohol conditioned aversion. Neuropharmacology 2019 144:82-90.


Avegno EM, Lobell TD, Itoga CA, Baynes BB, Whitaker AM, Weera MM, Edwards S, Middleton JW, Gilpin NW.  Central amygdala circuits mediate hyperalgesia in alcohol-dependent rats.  Journal of Neuroscience 2018 38:7761-7773.


Pahng AR, Paulsen RI, McGinn MA, Farooq MA, Edwards KN, Edwards S.  Dysregulation of c-Jun N-terminal kinase phosphorylation in alcohol dependence. Alcohol 2018 75:11-18.


Pahng AR, Edwards S. Measuring pain avoidance-like behavior in drug-dependent rats. Current Protocols in Neuroscience 2018 85(1):e53.


Juarez B, Morel C, Ku SM, Ribeiro E, Zhang H, Crumiller M, Jackson K, Roman-Ortiz C, Croote D, Calipari ES, Zhang S, Hodes G, Liu Y, Cederbaum AI, Vendruscolo LF, Edwards S, Roberts A, Chaudhury D, Friedman AK, Koob GF, Han MH.  Midbrain circuit regulation of individual alcohol drinking behaviors in mice. Nature Communications 2017 8:2220.


Pahng AR, Paulsen RI, McGinn MA, Edwards KN, Edwards S. Neurobiological correlates of pain avoidance-like behavior in morphine-dependent and non-dependent rats. Neuroscience 2017 366:1-14.


Pahng AR, McGinn MA, Paulsen RI, Edwards S.  The prefrontal cortex as a critical gate of negative affect in alcohol use disorder. Current Opinion in Behavioral Sciences. 2017 13:139-143.


Mayeux JP, Katz PS, Edwards S, Middleton JW, Molina PE.  Inhibition of endocannabinoid degradation improves outcomes from mild traumatic brain injury: A mechanistic role for synaptic hyperexcitability. Journal of Neurotrauma. 2017 34: 436-443.


McGinn MA, Paulsen RI, Itoga CA, Farooq MA, Reppel JE, Edwards KN, Whitaker AM, Gilpin NW, Edwards S. Withdrawal from chronic nicotine exposure produces region-specific tolerance to alcohol-stimulated GluA1 phosphorylation. Alcohol: Clinical and Experimental Research. 2016 40:2537-2547


Somkuwar SS, Staples MC, Fannon M, Zamora-Martinez ER, Kim A, Navarro AI, Edwards S, Mandyam CD.  Alcohol dependence-induced regulation of the proliferation and survival of adult brain progenitors is associated with altered BDNF-TrkB signaling. Brain Structure and Function. 2016 221:4319-4335.


McGinn MA, Edwards S. CRF1 receptor signaling at the intersection of pain and opioid addiction. In: Preedy V (Ed.) The Neuropathology of Drug Addictions and Substance Misuse. 2016 1: 891-896. Academic Press.


Whitaker AM, Farooq MA, Edwards S, Gilpin NW.  Post-traumatic stress avoidance is attenuated by corticosterone and associated with brain levels of steroid receptor co-activator-1 in rats.  Stress. 2016 19: 69-77.


LeBlanc D, McGinn MA, Itoga CA, Edwards S.  The affective dimension of pain as a risk factor for drug and alcohol addiction.  Alcohol. 2015 49:803-809.


Vendruscolo LF, Estey D, Goodell V, Macshane LG, Logrip ML, Schlosburg JE, McGinn MA, Zamora-Martinez ER, Belanoff JK, Hunt HJ, Sanna PP, George O, Koob GF, Edwards S, Mason BJ. Glucocorticoid receptor antagonism decreases alcohol seeking in alcohol dependent individuals. Journal of Clinical Investigation. 2015 125: 3193-3197.


Park PE, Schlosburg JE, Vendruscolo LF, Schulteis G, Edwards S, Koob GF. Chronic CRF1 receptor blockade reduces heroin intake escalation and dependence-induced hyperalgesia. Addiction Biology 2015 20: 275-284.


Helms CM, Anderson SM, Bell RL, Bennett AJ, Davies DL, Kosten TA, Leeman R, Panicker S, Platt DM, Weiner JL, Edwards S.  The importance of animals in advancing research on alcohol use disorders. Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research. 2015 39: 575-578.


Whitfield TW Jr, Schlosburg JE, Wee S, Gould A, George O, Grant Y, Zamora-Martinez ER, Crawford E, Edwards S, Vendruscolo LF, Koob GF. Kappa opioid receptors in the nucleus accumbens shell mediate escalation of methamphetamine intake. The Journal of Neuroscience. 2015 35: 4296-4305.


Kim A, Zamora-Martinez ER, Edwards S, Mandyam CD. Structural reorganization of pyramidal neurons in the medial prefrontal cortex of alcohol-dependent rats is associated with altered glial plasticity. Brain Structure and Function. 2015 220: 1705-1720.


Katz PS, Edwards S, Molina PE. Cannabinoids. In: Peterson PK and Toborek M (Eds.) Neuroinflammation and Neurodegeneration. 2014 XVII: 487-510. Springer: New York.


Zamora-Martinez ER, Edwards S. Neuronal extracellular signal-regulated kinase (ERK) signaling as marker and mediator of alcohol and opioid dependence. Frontiers in Integrative Neuroscience 2014 8:24.

Edwards S, Baynes BB, Carmichael C, Zamora-Martinez ER, Koob GF, Gilpin NW.  Traumatic stress reactivity promotes excessive alcohol drinking and alters the balance of prefrontal cortex-amygdala activity.  Translational Psychiatry 2013 3: e296.

Edwards S, Koob GF. Escalation of drug self-administration as a hallmark of addiction liability. Behavioural Pharmacology 2013 24: 356-362.

Kallupi M, Wee S, Edwards S, Whitfield TW Jr, Oleata CS, Luu G, Schmeichel BE, Koob GF, Roberto M. Kappa opioid receptor-mediated dysregulation of gamma-aminobutyric acidergic transmission in the central amygdala in cocaine addiction.  Biological Psychiatry 2013 74(7): 520-528.

Schlosburg JE, Vendruscolo LF, Bremer P, Lockner JW, Nunes AA, Stowe GN, Edwards S, Janda KD, Koob GF.  Heroin vaccine blocks relapse and compulsive intake of heroin. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences U.S.A. 2013 110(22): 9036-9041.

Egli M, Koob GF, Edwards S. Alcohol dependence as a chronic pain disorder. Neuroscience and Biobehavioral Reviews 2012 36: 2179-2192.

Additional Info


Corticotropin-releasing factor (CRF) immunoreactivity in the paraventricular nucleus (PVN) of the hypothalamus and the central nucleus of the amygdala (CeA). Courtesy of:
Adrienne McGinn (PhD Candidate, Edwards Lab)
Allyson Schreiber (MD/PhD Candidate, Gilpin Lab) 


2015 10:42:51 AM
Distinct regulatory environments exist for glucocorticoid receptor (GR)-mediated gene expression in the hypothalamic PVN and the central amygdala (CeA).  These elements drive corticotropin-releasing factor (CRF) expression in opposite directions within these two stress-regulatory regions, mediating a negative feedback along the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis but a positive feedback in the CeA.  In combination with alterations in GR activity in the prefrontal cortex (PFC), these neuroadaptations in glucocorticoid signaling following excessive alcohol exposure are hypothesized to drive the transition from recreational alcohol drinking to alcohol use disorder. 
Edwards, Little, RIchardson, and Vendruscolo (2015)


2015 1:44:13 PM
ERK phosphorylation integrates and impacts multiple levels of intracellular signaling to mediate short- and long-term neuroplasticity associated with the transition to addicted states. G protein-coupled receptors (gold) and ion channels (green) represent two major receptor classes that modify ERK phosphorylation in stress and reward circuitry following neurotransmitter binding. Active ERK can translocate to the nucleus to drive addiction-related patterns of gene expression following the subsequent phosphorylation of specific transcription factors (dark blue) and core histones (light blue).
Zamora-Martinez and Edwards (2014)