Dr. Rafael Koerich Varaschin

post-doctoral fellow

Contact info

Rafael Koerich Varaschin was born in the beautiful city of Florianopolis, Brazil. He attended the Federal University of Santa Catarina where he graduated as pharmacist in 2002. Soon after, he joined Master in Pharmacology program and studied the involvement of nucleus accumbens' opiate receptors in the onset of tolerance to ethanol, in the lab of Dr. Gina Morato. He then moved to Belo Horizonte where did a research internship investigating the effects of choline deprivation during fetal development in the lab of Dr. Angela Maria Ribeiro. In 2007 he moved to the USA and joined the Biomedical Sciences PhD program at the University of New Mexico, in Albuquerque. His thesis work observed that rats whose mothers consumed alcohol during pregnancy had exacerbated histamine H3 receptor-effector coupling which would, in turn, contribute to their cognitive deficit. It was also shown that treating these rats with a drug that blocks histamine H3 receptors improved cognition and reversed the deficit in synaptic plasticity. Rafael came to Canada in the summer of 2012, where he joined the lab of Dr. Louis-Eric Trudeau at the University of Montreal. He did a three-months training on optogenetics in the lab of Dr. Asa McKenzie-Wallen, at Uppsala University, Sweden, and then re-joined the Trudeau lab to investigate histamine H3 modulation of dopamine release in the striatum. By the end of 2015 he moved to his current position as post-doctoral fellow in Derek Bowie's lab, where he investigates insulin-mediated GABAergic plasticity in the context of Fragile-X syndrome. Rafael's interests are on neurodevelopmental disorders, in particular how these diseases impair cognitive function and neuronal plasticity.

Scholarships and Awards


Fonds de recherche santé Quebéc (FRQS) post-doctoral fellowship granted by the Government of Quebec, Canada. CAD 30,000 per year for 2 years.


Bourse d'Excellence granted by the Groupe de Recherche sur le Système Nerveux Central (GRSNC). Department of Neuroscience, Université de Montréal. Montreal, QC, Canada. CAD 20,000 for 1 year.


Science without borders post-doctoral fellowship granted by the National Council of Scientific and Technological Research (CNPq), Brazil. CAD 40,000 per year for 2 years.


RSA Student Merit Award granted by the Research Society on Alcoholism to attend to the 35th RSA Annual Meeting in San Francisco, CA, USA. US$ 700.


Keystone Symposia Scholarship granted by the National Institute of General Medical Sciences to attend the G-Protein Coupled Receptors and Channels Keystone Symposium in Taos, NM, USA. US$ 1,250.


Edmund J. & Thelma W. Evans Scholarship granted by the Edmund J. & Thelma W. Evans Charitable Trust as salary support. US$ 3,400.


Donald L. Partridge Award for Excellence in Research granted by the Department of Neurosciences, University of New Mexico, to attend the 2011 Society for Neurosciences Annual Meeting, Washington, D.C. US$ 1,000.


FASt Travel Award granted by the Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders Study Group to present at the FASDSG Annual Meeting, San Diego, CA, USA. US$ 900.


Ng E., Varaschin R.K., Su P., Browne C.J., Hermainski J., Foll B.L., Pongs O., Liu F., Trudeau L-E., Roder J.C., Wong A.H. (2015) Neuronal calcium sensor-1 deletion in the mouse decreases motivation and dopamine release in the nucleus accumbens. Behav Brain Res. 2015 Dec 28. pii: S0166-4328(15)30347-8. doi: 10.1016/j.bbr.2015.12.037. [Epub ahead of print] PubMed PMID: 26738968.

Varashin R. K., Rosenberg M. J., Hamilton D. A., Savage, D. D. (2014) Differential Effects of the Histamine H(3) Receptor Agonist Methimepip on Dentate Granule Cell Excitability, Paired-Pulse Plasticity and Long-Term Potentiation in Prenatal Alcohol-Exposed Rats. Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research, May 12. doi: 10.1111/acer.12430.

Sanchez G., Varaschin R. K., Büeler H., Marcogliese P. C., Park D. S., Trudeau L-E. (2014) Unaltered striatal dopamine release levels in young Parkin knockout, Pink1 knockout, DJ-1 knockout and LRRK2 R1441G transgenic mice. PLoS One. 2014 Apr 14;9(4):e94826. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0094826. eCollection 2014. PubMed PMID: 24733019; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC3986353.

Savage D. D., Rosenberg M. J., Wolff C. R., Akers K. G., El-Emawy A. A., Staples M. C., Varaschin R. K., Wright C. A., Seidel J. L., Caldwell K. K., Hamilton D. A. (2010) Effects of a novel cognition-enhancing agent on fetal ethanol-induced learning deficits. Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research, Oct;34(10):1793-802.

Varaschin R. K., Akers K. G., Rosenberg M. J., Hamilton D. A., Savage D. D. (2010) Effects of the Cognition-Enhancing Agent ABT-239 on Fetal Ethanol-induced Deficits in Dentate Gyrus Synaptic Plasticity. Journal of Pharmacology and Experimental Therapy, Jul;334(1):191-8.

Varaschin R. K., Morato G. S. (2009) The selective mu- and kappa-opioid receptor antagonists administered into the nucleus accumbens interfere with rapid tolerance to ethanol in rats. Psychopharmacology (Berl), 206(1):85-96.

Varaschin R. K., Wazlawik E., Morato G. S. (2005) Systemic and intra-accumbens injections of naltrexone interfere with tolerance to ethanol in rats. Psychopharmacology (Berl), 182(3):366-74.