Eric Zorrilla, PhD

Associate Professor
Department of Molecular Medicine


Scripps Research Joint Appointments

Associate Professor, Department of Neuroscience
Member, Pearson Center for Alcohol and Addiction Research
Faculty, Graduate Program

Other Joint Appointments

Associate Adjunct Professor, Department of Neurosciences, UCSD
Member, Neurosciences Graduate Program, UCSD

Research Focus

The Zorrilla laboratory seeks to understand the neural substrates of motivated behavior and of the regulatory control of energy balance using interdisciplinary molecular, biochemical, neuroanatomical, pharmacological, physiological, behavioral and statistical techniques. We are particularly interested in genetic, epigenetic and neuroadaptive differences in the neurobiology of reward and stress circuits that subserve the control of food intake as well as of other appetitive (reward-driven) and stress-related behaviors. Our work aims to be therapeutically relevant to the increased incidence of obesity, binge eating disorders, alcoholism and drug addiction, and stress-related psychiatric disorders of anxiety and depression in industrialized societies.


Ph.D. (Psychology), University of Pennsylvania, 1996
M.S. (Psychology), University of Pennsylvania, 1992
B.S. ( Psychology/Economics/Political Science), Duke University, 1991

Professional Experience

2003-2017 Associate Professor, Committee on the Neurobiology of Addictive Disorders (CNAD), Scripps Research
2001-2003 Senior Research Associate, Scripps Research
1997-2001 Research Associate, Scripps Research
1996-1997 Postdoctoral Fellow, Neurocrine Biosciences

Selected References

All Publications

Serafine, K. M., O'Dell, L. E. & Zorrilla, E. P. Converging vulnerability factors for compulsive food and drug use. (2021). Neuropharmacology, 196. PMCID: PMC8445770.

Vozella, V., Cruz, B., Natividad, L. A., Benvenuti, F., Cannella, N., Edwards, S., Zorrilla, E. P., Ciccocioppo, R. & Roberto, M. Glucocorticoid Receptor Antagonist Mifepristone Does Not Alter Innate Anxiety-Like Behavior in Genetically-Selected Marchigian Sardinian (msP) Rats. (2021). International Journal of Molecular Sciences, 22. PMCID: PMC8003048.

Kirson, D., Steinman, M. Q., Wolfe, S. A., Bagsic, S. R. S., Bajo, M., Sureshchandra, S., Oleata, C. S., Messaoudi, I., Zorrilla, E. P. & Roberto, M. Sex and context differences in the effects of trauma on comorbid alcohol use and post-traumatic stress phenotypes in actively drinking rats. (2021). Journal of Neuroscience Research,

Okhuarobo, A., Bolton, J. L., Igbe, I., Zorrilla, E. P., Baram, T. Z. & Contet, C. A novel mouse model for vulnerability to alcohol dependence induced by early-life adversity. (2020). Neurobiology of Stress, 13. PMCID: PMC7739069.

Steinman, M. Q., Kirson, D., Wolfe, S. A., Khom, S., D'Ambrosio, S. R., Bagsic, S. S. R., Bajo, M., Vlkolinsky, R., Hoang, N. K., Singhal, A., Sureshchandra, S., Oleata, C. S., et al. Importance of sex and trauma context on circulating cytokines and amygdalar GABAergic signaling in a comorbid model of posttraumatic stress and alcohol use disorders. (2020). Molecular Psychiatry,

Spierling, S., de Guglielmo, G., Kirson, D., Kreisler, A., Roberto, M., George, O. & Zorrilla, E. P. Insula to ventral striatal projections mediate compulsive eating produced by intermittent access to palatable food. (2020). Neuropsychopharmacology, 45(4), 579-588. PMCID: PMC7021713.

Zorrilla, E. P. & Koob, G. F. Impulsivity derived from the dark side: neurocircuits that contribute to negative urgency. (2019). Frontiers in Behavioral Neuroscience, 13. PMCID: PMC6603097.

Kreisler, A. D., Mattock, M. & Zorrilla, E. P. The duration of intermittent access to preferred sucrose-rich food affects binge-like intake, fat accumulation, and fasting glucose in male rats. (2018). Appetite, 130, 59. PMCID: PMC6168430.

Serrano, A., Pavon, F. J., Buczynski, M. W., Schlosburg, J., Natividad, L. A., Polis, I. Y., Stouffer, D. G., Zorrilla, E. P., Roberto, M., Cravatt, B. F., Martin-Fardon, R., de Fonseca, F. R., et al. Deficient endocannabinoid signaling in the central amygdala contributes to alcohol dependence-related anxiety-like behavior and excessive alcohol intake. (2018). Neuropsychopharmacology, 43(9), 1840-1850. PMCID: PMC6046053.

Spierling, S. R., Kreisler, A. D., Williams, C. A., Fang, S. Y., Pucci, S. N., Kines, K. T. & Zorrilla, E. P. Intermittent, extended access to preferred food leads to escalated food reinforcement and cyclic whole-body metabolism in rats: Sex differences and individual vulnerability. (2018). Physiology & Behavior, 192, 3. PMCID: PMC6019212.


Zorrilla Lab website

Zorrilla Lab publications