Amal Alachkar

Picture of Amal Alachkar
School of Pharmacy & Pharmaceutical Sciences
Ph.D., University of Manchester, UK, 2004, Neuroscince
D.Pharm., Aleppo University, Syria, 1996, Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Chemistry
Phone: (949) 824-9463
University of California, Irvine
356A Med Surge II
Mail Code: 4625
Irvine, CA 92697
Research Interests
Neurotransmitter systems, neural circuits, molecular pharmacology, neuropsychopharmacology, Psychiatric Disorders
Academic Distinctions
2011-2012 Hubert Humphrey Award, Department of State, USA,
2012-2014 Institute of International Education SRF Award, USA
2016 Outstanding Scholar Award, Institute of International Education, USA
2018 Global Change Maker Award, Institute of International Education, USA
Research Abstract
The research of Dr. Alachkar focuses on understanding the neurobiology of neurological and psychiatric disorders and identifying therapeutic target for optimal treatment.

Her first research direction focuses on the associations between genetic and environmental factors and psychiatric disorders such as schizophrenia and autism. Aversive conditions during pregnancy such as famine, nutritional deficits, and stress significantly disrupt fetal development and program the susceptibility to neuropsychiatric disorders. Dr. Alachkar is investigating potential therapies by using an epigenetic model of schizophrenia that involves disrupting on-carbon metabolisms during gestation. As part of this direction, Dr. Alachkar is also studying schizophrenia pharmacogenetics, particularly the association between schizophrenia and methylation enzymes’ genes.

Her second research direction is to define the role of the neuropeptide melanin concentrating hormone (MCH) in cognition and social behaviors. In particular, Dr. Alachkar is investigating the role of MCH system in behaviors related to maternal behavior and postpartum resilience/depression.
Chen# S, Alhassen# W, Yoshimura R, De Silva A, Abbott GW, Baldi P, Alachkar* A: Metabolomic and transcriptomic signatures of prenatal excessive methionine support nature rather than nurture in schizophrenia pathogenesis. Communications biology 2020, 3(1):409.*: corresponding author, #: these authors contributed equally to this work
Phan a, J. L. Alhassen a, A. Argelagos, W.Alhassen, B. Vachirakorntong, Z. Lin, N. Sanathara, A. Alachkar, 2020, Mating and parenting experiences sculpture mood-modulating effects of oxytocin- MCH signaling, In Press, Scientific reports
M. Senel*, E. Dervisevic , S. Alhassen , M. Dervisevic, Alachkar*, V. Cadarso, and N. Voelcker, 2020, Microfluidic electrochemical sensor for CSF and blood dopamine detection in a mouse model of Parkinson’s disease, In Press: Analytical Chemistry, *Corresponding author
Senel, M., M. Dervisevic, S. Alhassen, A. Alachkar and N. H. Voelcker (2020). "Electrochemical Micropyramid Array-Based Sensor for In Situ Monitoring of Dopamine Released from Neuroblastoma Cells." Analytical Chemistry 92(11): 7746-7753.
Musanabaganwa, C., S. Jansen, S. Fatumo, E. Rutembesa, J. Mutabaruka, D. Gishoma, A. Uwineza, Y. Kayiteshonga, A. Alachkar, D. Wildman, M. Uddin and L. Mutesa (2020). "Burden of post-traumatic stress disorder in postgenocide Rwandan population following exposure to 1994 genocide against the Tutsi: A meta-analysis." J Affect Disord 275: 7-13.
Vawter, M. P., A. Schulmann, L. Alhassen, W. Alhassen, A. R. Hamzeh, J. Sakr, L. Pauluk, R. Yoshimura, X. Wang, Q. Dai, N. Sanathara, O. Civelli and A. Alachkar (2020). "Melanin Concentrating Hormone Signaling Deficits in Schizophrenia: Association With Memory and Social Impairments and Abnormal Sensorimotor Gating." Int J Neuropsychopharmacol 23(1): 53-65.
Wang, L., Y. Zhang, C. Wang, X. Zhang, Z. Wang, X. Liang, A. Alachkar* and O. Civelli* (2019). "A Natural Product with High Affinity to Sigma and 5-HT7 Receptors as Novel Therapeutic Drug for Negative and Cognitive Symptoms of Schizophrenia." Neurochem Res 44(11): 2536-2545. *Corresponding Author
• Vawter, M. P., A.R. Hamzeh, E. Muradyan, O Civelli, G. W. Abbott*, A. Alachkar* (2019). ” Association of Myoinositol Transporters with Schizophrenia and Bipolar Disorder: Evidence from Human and Animal Studies”. Molecular Neuropsychiatry, DOI: 10.1159/000501125, *corresponding author

• Alhassen, L., A. Phan, W. Alhassen, P. Nguyen, A. Lo, H. Shaharuddin, N. Sanathara, O. Civelli and A. Alachkar* (2019). “The role of Olfaction in MCH-regulated spontaneous maternal responses.” Brain Research 1719: 71-76.

• Alachkar A*, Wang L, Yoshimura R, Hamzeh AR, Wang Z, Sanathara N, Lee SM, Xu X, Abbott GW, Civelli O., 2018, Prenatal one-carbon metabolism dysregulation programs schizophrenia-like deficits. Molecular psychiatry; 23:282-294.*corresponding author

• Zhang Y, Liu Y, Wu L, Fan C, Wang Z, Zhang X, Alachkar A, Liang X, Civelli O., 2018, Receptor-specific cross talk between prostanoid 3 and bombesin subtype 3 receptors. FASEB journal. fj201700337RR

• Sanathara, N. M., C. Garau, A. Alachkar, L. Wang, Z. Wang, K. Nishimori, X. Xu and O. Civelli (2018). “Melanin concentrating hormone modulates oxytocin-mediated marble burying.” Neuropharmacology 128: 22-32.

• Alachkar, A.*, Alhassen, L., Wang, Z., Wang, L., Onouye, K., Sanathara, N., Civelli, O., 2016, Inactivation of the MCH system impairs maternal behavior, European Journal of Neuropsychopharmacology * 26(11): 1826-1835.corresponding author

• Wang L, L., Y. Zhang, Z. Wang, N. Gong, T. D. Kweon, B. Vo, C. Wang, X. Zhang, J. Y. Chung, Alachkar A., X. Liang, D. Z. Luo and O. Civelli ., 2016, The Antinociceptive Properties of the Corydalis yanhusuo Extract." PLoS One 11(9): e0162875.

• Wang L*, Alachkar A*, Sanathara N, Belluzzi JD, Wang Z, Civelli O, 2015, “A Methionine-induced Animal Model of Schizophrenia: Face and predictive validity.” International Journal of Neuropsychopharmacology, 19;18(12), *those author contributed equally to the work.

• Alachkar, A., Jiang, D. Harrison, M. Zhou, Y. Chen, G. Mao, Y., 2013. "An EJC factor RBM8a regulates anxiety behaviors." Curr Mol Med 13(6): 887-899.

• Lajin B, Alachkar A., Michati R, Sakur A., 2013, Association between Polymorphisms in Genes for Tumor Suppressor Protein p53 and its Regulator NAD(P)H:Quinone Oxidoreductase 1 (NQO1) and Schizophrenia in a Syrian Study Cohort, Arch Med Res 44(2): 121-126.

• Lajin, B., Alhaj Sakur, A., Michati, R., Alachkar, A., 2012 Association between MTHFR C677T and A1298C, and MTRRA66G polymorphisms and susceptibility to schizophrenia in a Syrian study cohort, Asian Journal of Psychiatry. 5(2):144-9

• Lajin, B. and Alachkar, A., 2013, "The NQO1 polymorphism C609T (Pro187Ser) and cancer susceptibility: a comprehensive meta-analysis." Br J Cancer 109(5): 1325-1337.

• Alachkar, A., J. Brotchie, O. T. Jones, 2012, Changes in the mRNA levels of alpha2A and alpha2C Adrenergic Receptors in Rat Models of Parkinson’s Disease and L-DOPA-induced Dyskinesia, J Mol Neurosci. 46(1):145-52

• Mustafa, O. H., A. R. Hamzeh, Ghabreau, L. Akil, N. Almoustafa, A. E. Alachkar, A., 2013. "Allele Frequencies of the Epidermal Growth Factor Receptors Polymorphism R521K in Colorectal Cancer Patients and Healthy Subjects Indicate a Risk-Reducing Effect of K521 in Syrian Population." N Am J Med Sci 5(3): 202-206

• Lajin, B.; Alhaj Sakur, A.; Alachkar, A., 2013, Association between polymorphisms in apoptotic genes and susceptibility for developing breast cancer in Syrian women, Breast Cancer Res Treat, 138: 2, 611-9

• Lajin, B., Alhaj Sakur, A., Ghabreau, L., Alachkar A., 2012, Association of polymorphisms in one-carbon metabolizing genes with breast cancer risk in Syrian women. Tumour Biol, 33(4):1133-9

• Lajin*, B., Alachkar*, A., Hamzeh, AR., Michati, L., Alhaj, H., 2011. No association between Val158Met of the COMT gene and susceptibility to schizophrenia in the Syrian population. North Am J Med Sci, 3: 176-178.* those author contributed equally to the work.

• Alachkar, A., J. M. Brotchie, O.T. Jones. 2010 "Locomotor response to L-DOPA in reserpine-treated rats following central inhibition of aromatic L-amino acid decarboxylase: further evidence for non-dopaminergic actions of L-DOPA and its metabolites." Neurosci Res 68(1): 44-50.

• Lajin, B., Sakur, A.A., Hamzeh, A.R., Alachkar, A., 2010. Genotype distribution of the single nucleotide polymorphism Val158Met of the COMT gene in the Syrian population. J. Biol. Sci., 10: 701-704

• Alachkar, A., J. M. Brotchie, O.T. Jones .2010 "Binding of dopamine and 3-methoxytyramine as l-DOPA metabolites to human alpha (2)-adrenergic and dopaminergic receptors." Neurosci Res 67(3): 245-9.

• Alachkar, A., J. Brotchie, O. T. Jones (2006). "Alpha2-Adrenoceptor-mediated modulation of the release of GABA and noradrenaline in the rat substantia nigra pars reticulata." Neurosci Lett 395(2): 138-42.
Professional Societies
• Society for Neuroscience • Middle Eastern Association for Cancer Research • Syria Association of Pharmacists • Syria Society of Teachers • Neuroscience Society
Other Experience
Vice Dean for Administrative and Students Affairs
School of Pharmacy, Aleppo University, Aleppo, Syria 2007—2010
National Committee for Academic Reference Standards for Medical, Pharmacy and Dental Programs
Ministry of Higher Education 2010—2011
Vice Dean for Scientific and Research Affairs,
School of Pharmacy, Aleppo University, Aleppo, Syria 2008—2009
Chair, Biochemistry Department
School of Pharmacy, Aleppo University, Aleppo, Syria 2006—2007
Community pharmacist
Amal Pharmacy, Aleppo, Syria 1996—1999
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