Robert Messing, MD

Portrait of Robert Messing, MD

Robert Messing, MD

Professor, Neurology
Director, Waggoner Center for Alcohol and Addiction Research

Dr. Robert Messing serves as the Senior Advisor to the Dean on Research Strategy. In this role, he helps craft strategies that enable investigator and school success by facilitating partnerships and collaborations across the UT Austin campus. An accomplished investigator, Bob is also key for strategic development of research programs and research facilities for departments and institutes of the Dell Medical School.

In January 2013, Dr. Messing came to UT Austin as the Henry M. Burlage Centennial Endowed Professor in the College of Pharmacy. He was also appointed Vice Provost for Biomedical Sciences, and in this role served as co-chair for the steering committee charged with overseeing the development of the budget, curriculum, research program, clinical training program, community engagement and other aspects of the new Dell Medical School. Dr. Messing previously served as the Associate Dean for Research Development for the Dell Medical School, and is now the Senior Advisor to the Dean on Research Strategy. He continues as a Professor in the College of Pharmacy and as Director of the Waggoner Center for Alcoholism and Addiction Research.

Previously, Dr. Messing served as Senior Associate Director of the Gallo Center and was a Professor of Neurology and member of the Graduate Program in Neurosciences and the Program in Biological Sciences at University of California, San Francisco. He held the Endowed Chair in Neurology in Honor of the Gallo Family. He also participated in clinical teaching in neurology at San Francisco General Hospital.

Dr. Messing received his BA in History in 1974 and his MD in 1979, both from Stanford University. He trained in Internal Medicine from 1979-1981 at the University of Virginia, and then in Neurology at University of California, San Francisco from 1981-1984, where he served as Chief Resident from 1983-1984. Dr. Messing joined the Ernest Gallo Clinic and Research Center as a Postdoctoral Fellow in 1984 and then as a Principal Investigator in 1986. He currently serves on several scientific advisory and grant review boards, including the NIAAA Advisory Council.

Dr. Messing’s primary discipline is neuroscience and his major interests are in addiction, pain, anxiety and mood disorders. His laboratory uses a variety of molecular (gene targeting, transgenic expression, RNA interference) and circuit mapping (electrophysiology, optogenetics, immunohistochemistry) techniques in rodents to study the role of specific signaling proteins and circuits in which they reside in regulating behavior. The ultimate goal of this work is to determine if these proteins are drug targets for treating neuropsychiatric disorders. Dr. Messing’s major contributions include determining that protein kinase C epsilon, protein kinase C delta, N-type voltage-dependent calcium channels, and the type 1 equilibrative nucleoside transporter regulate ethanol intoxication and self-administration in mice. His research on protein kinase C epsilon in particular has led to ongoing efforts to develop inhibitors of this enzyme as potential treatments for pain, anxiety, and alcohol and nicotine addiction.