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Rachel Navarra, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor

Science Center 226 


Drexel University College of Medicine, Ph.D., 2016



Research Interests

My general interests focus on the development of drugs for treating cognitive dysfunction associated with neuropsychiatric disorders. My recent research has utilized a combination of in-vivo electrophysiology and behavioral pharmacology to further understand the mechanisms responsible for psychostimulant drug-induced facilitation of early stage sensory signal processing and behavioral outcomes during performance of sensory-guided goal-directed tasks. Psychostimulant drugs, such as methylphenidate, are used to treat behavioral dysfunction in attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and also used off-label as performance enhancing agents in healthy individuals. These drugs impact the operation and normal physiological function of intrinsic catecholamine neuromodulatory pathways within the brain, such as the locus coeruleus-norepinephrine system. When these systems operate at optimal levels, the release of transmitter within neural circuits responsible for cognitive and sensorimotor function results in improved signal processing and faster motor responses in goal directed behaviors.


(Updated July 2019)

  1. Waterhouse BD, Navarra RLThe locus coeruleus-norepinephrine system and sensory signal processing: A historical review and current perspectives. Brain Res, 1709: 1-15, April 2019.
  2. Navarra RL, Waterhouse BD. Considering noradrenergically mediated facilitation of sensory signal processing as a component of psychostimulant-induced performance enhancement. Brain Res, 1709: 67-80, April 2019.
  3. Navarra RL, Clark BD, Gargiulo AT, Waterhouse BD. Methylphenidate Enhances Early-Stage Sensory Processing and Rodent Performance of a Visual Signal Detection Task. Neuropsychopharmacology, 46(6): 1326-37, May 2017.
  4. Navarra RL, Clark BD, Zitnik GA, Waterhouse BD. Methylphenidate and atomoxetine enhance sensory-evoked neuronal activity in the visual thalamus of male rats. Exp Clin Psychopharmacol, 21(5): 363-374, October 2013.
  5. Malamas MS, Stange H, Schindler R, Lankau HJ, Grunwald C, Langen B, Egerland U, Hage T, Ni Y, Erdei J, Fan KY, Parris K, Marquis KL, Grauer S, Brennan J, Navarra R, Graf R, Harrison BL, Robichaud A, Kronbach T, Pangalos MN, Brandon NJ, Hoefgen N. Novel triazines as potent and selective phosphodiesterase 10A inhibitors. Bioorg Med Chem Lett, 22(18): 5876- 84, September 2012.
  6. Marquis KL, Comery TA, Jow F, Navarra RL, Grauer SM, Pulicicchio C, Kelley C, Brennan JA, Roncarati R, Scali C, Haydar S, Ghiron C, Terstappen GC, Dunlop J. Preclinical assessment of adjunctive treatment approach for cognitive impairment associated with schizophrenia using the alpha7 nicotinic acetylcholine receptor agonist WYE-103914/SEN34625. Psychopharmacology, 218(4): 635-47, December 2011.
  7. Malamas MS, Ni Y, Erdei J, Stange H, Schindler R, Lankau HJ, Grunwald C, Fan KY, Parris K, Langen B, Egerland U, Hage T, Marquis KL, Grauer S, Brennan J, Navarra R, Graf R, Harrison BL, Robichaud A, Kronbach T, Pangalos MN, Hoefgen N, Brandon NJ. Highly potent, selective, and orally active phosphodiesterase 10A inhibitors. J Med Chem, 54(21): 7621-38, November 2011.
  8. Kelly MP, Logue SF, Brennan J, Lakkaraju S, Jiang L, Rizzo S, Platt BJ, Dwyer JM, Neal S, Pulito VL, Agostino MJ, Grauer S, Navarra RL, Kelley C, Comery TA, Marquis K, Murrills RJ, Brandon NJ. PDE11A expression in the brain is enriched in ventral hippocampus and deletion results in schizophrenia-releated phenotypesPNAS, 107(18):8457-62, May 2010.