Svetlana Semenova, Ph.D. 

Assistant Adjunct Professor

Contact Information

9500 Gilman Dr., M/C 0603
La Jolla, CA 92093-0603
T: (858) 534-1528
F: (858) 534-9917


Dr. Svetlana Semenova received her B.A. and M.A. degrees in Physiology from the Leningrad State University (St. Petersburg, Russia), and her Ph.D. in Pharmacology from the Pavlov State Medical University (St. Petersburg, Russia). She completed her postdoctoral training at The Scripps Research Institute (La Jolla, CA). Since 2009, Dr. Semenova has been a faculty member in the Department of Psychiatry at UCSD.

Research Interests

Research Focus

Dr. Semenova’s research investigates the neurobiological mechanisms underlying the long-term effects of adolescent alcohol exposure on impulsivity, risky behaviors, reward and motivational processes. She is also studying how adolescent alcohol exposure alters adult responses to stress and sensitivity to drugs of abuse and alcohol. Further, Dr. Semenova examines how cognitive, reward and motivational processes are altered by combined exposure to HIV-related gp120 and TAT proteins and psychostimulants, and whether these effects are aged-dependent. This research is conducted within the Translational Methamphetamine AIDs Research Center (TMARC) at UCSD. More recently, in collaboration with the Stein Institute for Research on Aging (SIRA), Dr. Semenova has begun studying the neurobiology of successful aging with main focus on cognitive function.


  • Semenova, S. , Markou, A. (2003). Clozapine treatment attenuated somatic and affective signs of nicotine and amphetamine withdrawal in subsets of rats that exhibited hyposensitivity to the initial effects of clozapine. Biol Psychiatry, 54, 1249-1264.
  • Semenova, S., Markou, A. (2007). The effects of the mGluR5 antagonist MPEP and the mGluR2/3 antagonist LY341495 on rats’ performance in the 5-choice serial reaction time task. Neuropharmacology, 52:863-872. PMCID: PMC1847349.
  • Semenova, S. , Geyer, M.A., Sutcliffe, J.G., Markou, A., Hedlund, P.B. (2008). Inactivation of the 5-HT7 receptor partially blocks PCP-induced disruption of prepulse inhibition. Biol Psychiatry, 63:98-105. PMCID: PMC2174622
  • Semenova, S., Markou, A. (2010) The α2 adrenergic receptor antagonist idazoxan, but not the serotonin-2A receptor antagonist M100907, partially attenuated reward deficits associated with nicotine, but not amphetamine, withdrawal in rats. Eur Neuropsychopharmacology, 20:731-746. PMCID: PMC3545706.
  • Semenova, S. , Contet, C., Roberts, A. and Markou, A. (2012). Mice lacking the β4 subunit of the nicotinic acetylcholine receptor show memory deficits, altered anxiety- and depression-like behavior, and diminished nicotine-induced analgesia” Nicotine and Tobacco Research, 14(11):1346-55. PMCID: PMC3482014
  • Semenova, S. (2012) Attention, impulsivity, and cognitive flexibility in adult male rats exposed to ethanol binge during adolescence as measured in the five-choice serial reaction time task: the effects of task and ethanol challenges. Psychopharmacology, 219:433-442. PMCID: PMC4018242
  • Kesby, J.P., Hubbard, T.D., Markou, A., and Semenova, S. (2014) Expression of HIV gp120 protein increases sensitivity to the rewarding properties of methamphetamine in mice. Addiction Biology, 19(4): 593-605. PMCID: PMC3608835
  • Mejia-Toiber, J., Markou, A. and Semenova, S. (2014) Impulsive choice behavior and anxiety-like behavior in adult rats exposed to chronic intermittent ethanol during adolescence and adulthood. Behavioural Brain Research, 266:19-28. PMCID: PMC4005391
  • Kesby,P.J., Markou,A., Semenova, S. and the Translational Methamphetamine AIDS Research Center Group (2014) Cognitive deficits associated with combined HIV gp120 expression and chronic methamphetamine exposure in mice. European Neuropsychopharmacology (accepted).