Sergi Ferré, M.D., Ph.D., Senior Investigator - Principal Investigators - The Intramural Research Program of the National Institute on Drug Abuse

Skip Navigation

Principal Investigators

Sergi Ferré, M.D., Ph.D., Senior Investigator


Integrative Neurobiology Section
National Institute on Drug Abuse Intramural Research Program

251 Bayview Blvd,

Suite 200, Room 07A707

Baltimore, MD 21224

Voice: (443) 740-2647

Fax: (443) 740-2816


Sergi Ferré, M.D., Ph.D., Senior Investigator

Chief, Integrative Neurobiology Section on-site page link

Post-doctoral Training - Karolinska Institute, Stockholm

Neurologist - Residency training in the Department of Neurology, Hospital de Sant Pau, Faculty of Medicine, Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona

Ph.D. - Laboratory of Neuropharmacology, Faculty of Medicine, Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona

M.D. - Faculty of Medicine, Universitat Central de Barcelona


We are interested in the role of G protein-coupled receptor (GPCR) heteromers as targets for drug development in neuropsychiatric disorders. GPCR heteromers are higher order molecular entities that are the result of combinatorial evolution and endowed with unique biochemical and functional properties that could be harnessed for therapeutic purposes. GPCR heteromers uncover a previously unforeseen vast number of new possible subpopulations of GPCR subtypes, with specific neuronal localizations and functions. Their potential ligand selectivity implies that GPCR heteromers constitute potential new targets for drug development.

Our research deals preferentially with the discovery of heteromers of GPCR that are already targets for addictive drugs or that are localized in brain circuits that are involved in Substance Use Disorders (such as dopamine, glutamate, cannabinoid and adenosine receptors) and with the analysis of their biochemical and pharmacological properties involving studies at the cellular level as well as at the in vivo level. Their properties imply multiple allosteric mechanisms between orthosteric ligands as well as their ability to form part of specific GPCR-G protein-effector macromolecular complexes. Finally, we are also studying the role of GPCR heteromers in determining functional differences of the products of polymorphic variants associated with endophenotypes of neuropsychiatric disorders.

At the cellular level, mammalian cell lines transfected with the receptors under study are used to demonstrate GPCR heteromerization by biophysical techniques. We then investigate the unique biochemical properties of the GPCR heteromers using biochemical disruptive techniques, which provide a “biochemical fingerprint” for their identification in the brain. In vivo models are established for the evaluation of the functional significance of GPCR heteromers, which include combinations of intracranial electrical and optogenetic stimulation and in vivo microdialysis techniques.

Selected Publications:

  1. Ferré S, Baler R, Bouvier M, Caron MG, Devi LA, Durroux T, Fuxe K, George SR, Javitch JA, Lohse MJ, Mackie K, Milligan G, Pfleger KD, Pin JP, Volkow ND, Waldhoer M, Woods AS, Franco R. Building a new conceptual framework for receptor heteromers. Nat Chem Biol. 2009;5(3):131-4

  2. Belcher AM, Volkow ND, Moeller FG, Ferré S. Personality traits and vulnerability or resilience to substance use disorders. Trends Cogn Sci. 2014;18(4):211-7.

  3. Guitart X, Navarro G, Moreno E, Yano H, Cai NS, Sánchez-Soto M, Kumar-Barodia S, Naidu YT, Mallol J, Cortés A, Lluís C, Canela EI, Casadó V, McCormick PJ, Ferré S. Functional selectivity of allosteric interactions within G protein-coupled receptor oligomers: the dopamine D1-D3 receptor heterotetramer. Mol Pharmacol. 2014;86(4):417-29.

  4. Ferré S, Casadó V, Devi LA, Filizola M, Jockers R, Lohse MJ, Milligan G, Pin JP, Guitart X. G protein-coupled receptor oligomerization revisited: functional and pharmacological perspectives. Pharmacol Rev. 2014;66(2):413-34.

  5. Ferré S. The GPCR heterotetramer: challenging classical pharmacology. Trends Pharmacol Sci. 2015;36(3):145-52.

About Dr. Ferré's...

IRP Training Opportunities...

2009 Postbacs
Postdoc, Predoc, Postbac and Summer Student training opportunities available!

2009 Summer Students
Research & Training Program for Under-represented Populations

Health and Human Services Logo National Institute on Drug Abuse Logo

The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), is part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the principal biomedical and behavioral research agency of the United States Government. NIH is a component of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

PDF documents require the free Adobe Reader. Microsoft Word documents require the free Microsoft Word viewer. Microsoft PowerPoint documents require the free Microsoft PowerPoint viewer. Flash content requires the free Adobe Flash Player.