Amina S. Woods Ph.D., Tenure Track Investigator - Principal Investigators - The Intramural Research Program of the National Institute on Drug Abuse

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Amina Woods, Ph.D.


Structural Biology Unit
Triad Building Rm 1120
333 Cassell Dr.
Baltimore, MD 21224

Phone: (443) 740-2747

Fax: (443) 740-2144

Amina S. Woods Ph.D., Investigator

Chief, Structural Biology Unit on-site page link

Post-doctoral training - Oncology Immunology, Johns Hopkins School of Medicine (advisor Elizabeth Jaffee)

Awards -2011 NIDA Investigator recipient of "Woman Scientist Achievement Award"

Ph. D. - Pharmacology and Molecular Sciences, Johns Hopkins School of Medicine

M.S.. - Pathology, University of Maryland Medical School

B.S. - Chemistry, Loyola College


Functional proteomics has allowed us to formulate a comprehensive understanding of receptors' structure, a mechanism for the macromolecular basis of receptor heteromerization and define heteromers formation (e.g. Adenosine A2A-Dopamine D2, Cannabinoid CB1-Dopamine D2 and NMDA NR1-Dopamine D1) at the molecular level.   Through the study of noncovalent interactions, we have also elucidated the mechanism of NMDA mediated dynorphin neurotoxicity and designed a decoy peptide that takes into account the structure of its target.

We are mapping and imaging the brain’s and other organs lipidome (glycolipids, cerebrosides, sphingomyelin, gangliosides and cardiolipins) and proteome in health and in pathological conditions such as blast induced traumatic brain injury, as well as mapping and imaging the anatomical distribution and localization of drugs of abuse in the addicted brain.

We are investigating the lipidome and proteome of leucocytes from controls and drug addicted rats to find biomarkers for addiction and ones that would reflect the progressive changes that occur during the development of addiction, which would allow the determination of the status of an addicted individual with as little as one milliliter of blood.

We are also developing and enhancing Ion-Mobility MALDI MS instrumentation and applications, with the ultimate goal of cellular imaging.

We consider protein modeling and bioinformatics of all biological molecules and the possible drugs and compounds that interact with them to be important tools in understanding and designing therapeutic compounds to help alleviate or cure addiction.

Although we seem to cast a large net, all of our work involves biomolecules that are important in understanding the biology of addiction.

Selected Publications:
  1. Laskin J, Yang Z and Woods AS. Competition between Covalent and Noncovalent Bond Cleavages in Dissociation of Phosphopeptide-Amine Complexes. Phys Chem Chem Phys 13, 6936-6946 (2011).

  2. Colsch B, Jackson SN, Dutta S and Woods AS. Brain Gangliosides’ Molecular Microscopy, Illustrating their Distribution in Hippocampal Cell Layers. ACS Chemical Neuroscience 2, 213-222 (2011).

  3. Delvolve AM, Colsch B, Woods AS. Highlighting anatomical sub-structures in rat brain tissue using Lipid imaging Analytical Methods 3, 1729-1736 (2011).

  4. Woods AS et al. Electrostatic Interactions as Key Determinants of the Quaternary Structure of Receptor Heteromers. JBC 285, 27346–27359 (2010).

  5. Woods AS. (2010). The Dopamine D4 Receptor, the Ultimate Disordered Protein. Journal of Receptors and Signal Transduction. 30, 331-336.

  6. Colsch B and Woods AS. (2010). Localization and Imaging of gangliosides in tissue using mass spectrometry Glycobiology 20, 661–667.

  7. Jackson SN, Colsch B, Egan T, Schultz JA and Woods AS. (2010). Analysis of Gangliosides by MALDI-Ion Mobility MS. The Analyst 136, 463–466 (2011).

  8. Borroto-Escuela DO, Van Craenenbroeck K, Romero-Fernandez W, Guidolin D, Woods AS, Rivera A, Agnati LF, Tarakanov AO and Fuxe K. Dopamine D2 and D4 Receptor Heteromerization and its Allosteric Receptor-Receptor Interactions. Biochemical and Biophysical Research Communications 404, 928-34 (2011).

  9. Kenakin T, Agnati LF, Caron M, Fredholm B, Guidoli D, Kobilka B, Lefkowitz RW, Lohse M, Woods A, Fuxe K. International Workshop at the Nobel Forum, Karolinska Institutet on G protein-coupled receptors: finding the words to describe monomers, oligomers, and their molecular mechanisms and defining their meaning. Can a consensus be reached? J Recept Signal Transduct Res. 30, 284-286 (2010).

  10. Fuxe K, Marcellino D, Woods AS, Giuseppina L, Antonelli T, Ferraro L, Tanganelli S, Agnati LF. Integrated signaling in heterodimers and receptor mosaics of different types of GPCRs of the forebrain: relevance for schizophrenia. J Neural Transm 116, 923-39 (2009).

About Dr. Woods' ...

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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.

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