Photo of Scott Russo

Scott Russo

Print ProfilePrint Profile


  • Ph.D., Graduate School and University Center of CUNY

  • University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center


    Dr. Russo is Assistant Professor of Neuroscience at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine. His research is focused on understanding how the brain adapts to stress and drugs to guide future behaviors that are relevant to addiction and depression. 

    Visit Dr. Scott Russo's Lab for more information.


  • -
    Johnson & Johnson/IMHRO Rising Star Translational Research Award

  • -
    Dr. Harold and Golden Lamport Research Award

  • -
    Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai Faculty Council Award

  • -
    Irma T. Hirschl/Monique Weill-Caulier Trust Research Award

  • -
    Mount Sinai School of Medicine “Best Postdoctoral Mentor” Award


The lab uses a wide variety of experimental approaches to understand how the brain adapts to stress and drugs leading to altered synaptic connectivity and behavioral changes relevant to depression and addiction.  We do this by integrating well-established behavioral models, with molecular and biochemical techniques and traditional neuroanatomy.

Neurobiological mechanisms of stress
Aberrant growth or retraction of dendritic spines and neurite processes have been implicated in a multitude of psychiatric and neurological diseases, including drug addiction, stress disorders, X-linked mental retardation and schizophrenia. Features of these diseases often include one or more of the following: reward dysfunction and memory deficits, anxiety and depressed mood, hyperarousal and exaggerated startle responses. Many of these symptoms are core features of anxiety and mood disorders in humans and can be modeled to some extent, using chronic stress models in mice. The field currently uses a range of mild to severe stressors to study the behavioral symptoms of anxiety and depression and it is well established that stress can strongly influences neuronal morphology in key brain reward regions. We are currently uncovering fundamental biochemical pathways regulated by stress to alter cellular connectivity in brain reward regions to define more selective drug targets that reduce side effects and more effectively treating the core behavioral symptoms of depression and anxiety.   

Gender and depression
The effects of chronic stress on neural and behavioral plasticity are far less characterized in female rodents compared with male rodents, despite the predominance of the human syndrome in women.  In my lab we study biological determinants of sex differences in stress-induced depressive behavior.  Although the biological mechanisms are not fully understood, it's likely that a female's increased sensitivity to stress-induced depressive-like behaviors is related to the presence of fluctuating ovarian hormones.  In a recent study we showed that surgical ovariectomy blunted stress-induced gene expression in nucleus accumbens and decreased their sensitivity to stress induced depressive behavior. The goal of these studies are to uncover gender specific molecular targets for drug development to improve treatment outcomes for woman suffering from depression.

Visit Dr. Scott Russo's Lab for more information.


Berton O, McClung CA, Dileone RJ, Krishnan V, Renthal W, Russo SJ, Graham D, Tsankova NM, Bolanos CA, Rios M, E. Essential role of BDNF in the mesolimbic dopamine pathway in social defeat stress. Science 2006; 311(5762): 864-868.

Russo SJ, Bolanos CA, Theobald DE, DeCarolis NA, Renthal W, Kumar A, Winstanley CA, Renthal NE, Wiley MD, Self DW, Russell D, Neve RL, Eisch AJ, Nestler EJ. IRS2-Akt pathway in midbrain dopamine neurons regulates behavioral and cellular responses to opiates. Nature Neuroscience 2007; 10(1): 93-99.

Krishnan V, Han MH, Graham DL, Berton O, Renthal W, Russo SJ, Laplant Q, Graham A, Lutter M, Lagace DC, Ghose S, Reister R, Tannous P, Green TA, Neve RL, Chakravarty S, Eisch AJ, Self DW, Lee FS, Tamminga C, Cooper DC, Gershenfeld HK, Nestler EJ. Molecular Mechanisms Underlying Susceptibility and Resistance to Social Defeat in Brain Reward Regions. Cell 2007; 131(2): 391-404.

LaPlant Q, Chakravarty S, Vialou V, Mukherjee S, Koo JW, Kalahasti G, Bradbury KR, Taylor SV, Maze I, Kumar A, Graham A, Birnbaum SG, Krishnan V, Truong HT, Neve RL, Nestler EJ, Russo SJ. Role of NFkB in ovarian hormone mediated stress hypersensitivity in female mice. Biological Psychiatry 2009; 65(10): 874-880.

Russo SJ, Wilkinson MB, Mazei-Robison M, Dietz DM, Maze I, Krishnan V, Renthal W, Graham A, Birnbaum SG, Green TA, Robison B, Lesselyong A, Perrotti LI, Bolanos CA, Kumar A, Clark MS, Neumaier JF, Neve RL, Bhakar AL, Barker PA, Nestler EJ. Nuclear Factor kB signaling regulates neuronal morphology and cocaine reward. Journal of Neuroscience 2009; 29(11): 3529-3537.

Maze I, Covington HE, Dietz DM, LaPlant Q, Renthal W, Russo SJ, Mechanic M, Mouzon E, Neve RL, Haggarty SJ, Ren Y, Sampath SC, Hurd YL, Greengard P, Tarakhovsky A, Schaefer A, Nestler EJ. Essential Role of the Histone Methyltransferase G9a in Cocaine-induced Plasticity . Science 2010; 327(5962): 213-216.

Koo J, Russo SJ, Ferguson D, Nestler EJ, Duman RS. Nuclear factor-κB is a critical mediator of stress-impaired neurogenesis and depressive behavior. PNAS 2010; 107(6): 2669-2674.

Russo SJ, Dietz DM, Dumtriu D, Morrison JH, Malenka RC, Nestler EJ. The addicted synapse: mechanisms of synaptic and structural plasticity in nucleus accumbens [review]. Trends in Neuroscience 2010 Jun; 33(6): 7652-63.

Christoffel DJ, Golden SA, Dumitriu D, Robison AJ, Janssen WG, Ahn HF, Krishnan V, Reyes CM, Han MH, Ables JL, Eisch AJ, Dietz DM, Ferguson D, Neve RL, Greengard P, Kim Y, Morrison JH, Russo SJ. IκB kinase regulates social defeat stress-induced synaptic and behavioral plasticity. Journal of Neuroscience 2011 Jan; 31(1).

Golden SA, Covington HE, Berton O, Russo SJ. A standardized protocol for repeated social defeat stress in mice. Nature Protocols 2011 Jul; 6(8).

Dietz DM, Sun H, Lobo MK, Cahill ME, Chadwick B, Gao V, Koo JW, Mazei-Robison MS, Dias C, Maze I, Damez-Werno D, Dietz KC, Scobie KN, Ferguson D, Christoffel D, Ohnishi Y, Hodes GE, Zheng Y, Neve RL, Hahn KM, Russo SJ, Nestler EJ. Rac1 is essential in cocaine-induced structural plasticity of nucleus accumbens neurons. Nature neuroscience 2012 Jun; 15(6).

Chaudhury D, Walsh JJ, Friedman AK, Juarez B, Ku SM, Koo JW, Ferguson D, Tsai HC, Pomeranz L, Christoffel DJ, Nectow AR, Ekstrand M, Domingos A, Mazei-Robison MS, Mouzon E, Lobo MK, Neve RL, Friedman JM, Russo SJ, Deisseroth K, Nestler EJ, Han MH. Rapid regulation of depression-related behaviours by control of midbrain dopamine neurons. Nature 2013 Jan; 493(7433).

Golden SA, Christoffel DJ, Heshmati M, Hodes GE, Magida J, Davis K, Cahill ME, Dias C, Ribeiro E, Ables JL, Kennedy PJ, Robison AJ, Gonzalez-Maeso J, Neve RL, Turecki G, Ghose S, Tamminga CA, Russo SJ. Epigenetic regulation of RAC1 induces synaptic remodeling in stress disorders and depression. Nature medicine 2013 Mar; 19(3).

Russo SJ, Nestler EJ. The brain reward circuitry in mood disorders [review]. Nature Reviews Neuroscience 2013 Oct; 14(10): 736.

Industry Relationships

Physicians and scientists on the faculty of the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai often interact with pharmaceutical, device and biotechnology companies to improve patient care, develop new therapies and achieve scientific breakthroughs. In order to promote an ethical and transparent environment for conducting research, providing clinical care and teaching, Mount Sinai requires that salaried faculty inform the School of their relationships with such companies.

Dr. Russo did not report having any of the following types of financial relationships with industry during 2015 and/or 2016: consulting, scientific advisory board, industry-sponsored lectures, service on Board of Directors, participation on industry-sponsored committees, equity ownership valued at greater than 5% of a publicly traded company or any value in a privately held company. Please note that this information may differ from information posted on corporate sites due to timing or classification differences.

Mount Sinai's faculty policies relating to faculty collaboration with industry are posted on our website. Patients may wish to ask their physician about the activities they perform for companies.

Edit profile in Sinai Central


Icahn (East) Building Floor 10 Room 20A
1425 Madison Avenue
New York, NY 10029

Tel: 212-659-5917