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  1. Science & Research (NCTR)

David A. Thorn Ph.D.
Leadership Role

Staff Fellow — Division of Systems Biology

Dr. David Thorn

David A. Thorn, Ph.D.
(870) 543-7121

Back to NCTR Principal Investigator page

About  |  Publications


Dr. David A. Thorn received a B.S. in biotechnology from the University at Buffalo in 2009. He then joined ZeptoMetrix Corporation as a molecular biologist, providing diagnostic product development and testing services to clients in the field of infectious diseases. After his time in the biotech industry, he returned to the University at Buffalo to pursue his doctoral degree. In 2015, he earned his Ph.D. in pharmacology where he received ten awards for his research, including the 1) Dennis Higgins Award for Ph.D. Dissertation Research in Pharmacology and Toxicology and 2) Dean’s Award for Outstanding Dissertation Research. Dr. Thorn was recruited to the Division of Neurotoxicology at NCTR as a staff fellow in 2015 and transferred to the Division of Systems Biology in 2018 as a principal investigator.

Research Interests

Dr. Thorn’s research supports the public-health fight against the growing opioid epidemic and the increasingly critical need to understand the brain mechanisms of drug addiction to develop more effective treatments and to facilitate informed regulatory policy.  Prior to joining FDA, Dr. Thorn published extensively on the pre-clinical development of a novel class of pain relievers which lack apparent abuse-related effects. When combined with opioids, these drugs significantly enhanced the therapeutic effects (pain relief) of opioids, while also decreasing some adverse effects (tolerance and dependence), potentially creating a safer opioid pain-treatment option. In addition, his research has identified drugs that may be useful in the treatment of cocaine and methamphetamine addiction. Dr. Thorn is applying in vivo pharmacology methods to advance knowledge on drug addiction, particularly to opioids and psychostimulants.

Another area of Dr. Thorn’s research efforts aim to combine emerging imaging techniques with behavioral pharmacology models to further comprehend the brain mechanisms of opioid addiction. To accomplish this, he is using matrix-assisted laser-desorption ionization imaging mass spectrometry (MALDI IMS) to investigate drug and neurotransmitter distributions in the brains of opioid-treated rats. Once these methods are established, Dr. Thorn will use this procedure for comprehensive rat studies focused on delineating the brain mechanisms underlying the abuse-related effects of opioids and individual differences of subjects in response to repeated opioid administration.

Professional Societies

American Society for Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics
2012 – Present

Behavioral Pharmacology Society
2013 – Present

Society for Neuroscience
2013 – Present


Selected Publications

Tolerance and Cross-Tolerance to the Antinociceptive Effects of Oxycodone and the Imidazoline I2 Receptor Agonist Phenyzoline in Adult Male Rats.
Thorn D.A., Zhang Y., and Li J.X.
Psychopharmacology. 2017, 234: 1871-1880.

Effects of the Imidazoline I2 Receptor Agonist 2-BFI on the Development of Tolerance and Behavioral/Physical Dependence to Morphine in Rats.
Thorn D.A., Zhang Y., and Li J.X.
Br J Pharmacol. 2016, 173(8): 1363-1372.

Agmatine Attenuates the Discriminative Stimulus and Hyperthermic Effects of Methamphetamine in Male Rats.
Thorn D.A., Li J., Qiu Y., and Li J.X.
Behav Pharmacol. 2016, 27(6): 542-548.

Effects of Trace Amine-Associated Receptor 1 Agonists on the Expression, Reconsolidation, and Extinction of Cocaine Reward Memory.
Liu J., Thorn D.A., Zhang Y., and Li J.X.
Int JNP. 2016, 19(7): 1-9.

Antinociceptive Effects of Imidazoline I2 Receptor Ligands in the Formalin Test in Rats.
Thorn D.A., Qiu Y., Zhang Y., and Li J.X.
Behav Pharmacol. 2015, 27(4): 377-383.

Trace Amine-Associated Receptor Type 1 as a Target for the Development of Treatments for Stimulant Abuse.
Hiranita T., and Thorn D.A.
J Alcohol Drug Depend. 2015, 3: e122.

Anti-Hyperalgesic Effects of Imidazoline I2 Receptor Ligands and Their Interactions with Oxycodone in a Rat Model of Inflammatory Pain.
Thorn D.A., Siemian J., Zhang Y., and Li J.X.
Psychopharmacology. 2015, 232(18): 3309-3318.

Anti-Muscarinic Adjunct Therapy Accelerates Functional Human Oligodendrocyte Repair.
Abiraman K., Pol S.U., O’Bara M.A., Chen G.D., Khaku Z.M., Wang J., Thorn D.A., Vedia B.H., Ekwegbalu E.C., Li J.X., Salvi R.J., and Sim F.J.
J Neurosci. 2015, 35(8): 3676-3688.

Effect of 1-substitution on Tetrahydroisoquinolines as Selective Antagonists for the Orexin-1 Receptor.
Perrey D.A., German N.A., Decker A.M., Thorn D.A., Li J.X., Gilmour B.P., Thomas B.F., Harris D.L., Runyon S.P., and Zhang Y.
ACS Chem Neurosci. 2015 6(4): 599-614.

Behavioral Effects of the Cannabinoid CB1 Receptor Allosteric Modulator ORG27569 in Rats.
Ding Y., Qiu Y., Jing L., Thorn D.A., Zhang Y., and Li J.X.
Pharmacol Res Perspect. 2014, 2(6): e00069.

Effects of the Trace Amine Associated Receptor 1 Agonist RO5263397 on Abuse-Related Effects of Cocaine in Rats.
Thorn D.A., Jing L., Qiu Y., Gancarz-Kausch A.M., Galuska C.M., Dietz D.M., Zhang Y., and Li JX.
Neuropsychopharmacology. 2014, 39: 2309-2316.

The Trace Amine Associated Receptor 1 Agonist RO5263397 Attenuates the Induction of Cocaine Behavioral Sensitization in Rats.
Thorn D.A., Zhang C., Zhang Y., and Li J.X.
Neurosci Lett. 2014, 566: 67-71.

Behavioral Effects of the Imidazoline I2 Receptor Ligand BU99006 in Rats.
Qui Y., Thorn D.A., Zhang Y., He X., and Li J.X.
Behav Pharmacol. 2014, 25(2): 130-136.

Anti-Hyperalgesic Effects of Imidazoline I2 Receptor Ligands in Rat Models of Inflammatory and Neuropathic Pain.
Li J.X., Thorn D.A., Qiu Y., Peng B.W., and Zhang Y.
Br J Pharmacol. 2014, 171(6): 1580-1590.

The GPR88 Receptor Agonist 2-PCCA Does Not Alter the Behavioral Effects of Methamphetamine in Rats.
Li J.X., Thorn D.A., and Jin C.
Eur J Pharmacol. 2013, 698(1-3): 272-277.

Characterization of the Hypothermic Effects of Imidazoline I2 Receptor Agonists in Rats.
Thorn D.A., An X.F., Zhang Y., Pigini M., and Li J.X.
Br J Pharmacol. 2012, 166(6): 1936-1945.

Agmatine Attenuates Methamphetamine-Induced Conditioned Place Preference in Rats.
Thorn D.A., Winter J.C., and Li J.X.
Eur J Pharmacol. 2012, 680(1-3): 69-72.

Effects of Imidazoline I2 Receptor Ligands on Morphine- and Tramadol-Induced Antinociception in Rats.
Thorn D.A., Zhang Y., Peng B.W., Winter J.C., and Li J.X.
Eur J Pharmacol. 2011, 670: 435-440.

Contact Information
David A. Thorn
Technology & Discipline
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