Johnson, Philip L., PhD


  • University of South Dakota, Biology and Psychology, B.Sc., 1998
  • University of South Dakota, Biology, M.Sc., 2000
  • University of Bristol, Functional Neuroanatomy, Ph.D., 2005
  • Indiana University School of Medicine, Integrative Neuroscience, Postdoc, 2005-2008


Academic Appointments

  • 2008-2010: Assistant Research Professor, Department of Psychiatry, Indiana University School of Medicine, Indianapolis, IN
  • 2010-2012: Assistant Professor, Department of Psychiatry, Indiana University School of Medicine, Indianapolis, IN
  • 2012-Present: Assistant Professor, Department of Anatomy & Cell Biology, Indiana University School of Medicine, Indianapolis, IN


Professional Societies

  • Society for Neuroscience (SFN)
  • International Brain Research Organization (IBRO)
  • New York Academy of Sciences (NYAS)
  • Anxiety Disorder Association of America (ADAA)
  • Associate Member of Faculty of 1000
  • 2011-present: International Behavioral Neuroscience Society (IBNS)



  • 2012: Scholars Abstract Award, Clinical and Translational Research and Education Meeting ACRT/SCTS
  • 2011: Poster selected for Data Blitz session 50th Anniversary American College of Neuropsychopharmacology
  • 2010: Scholars Abstract Award, Clinical and Translational Research and Education Meeting ACRT/SCTS
  • 2009: Young Investigator Award, NARSAD
  • 2009: Who's Who in Medicine Education
  • 2007: Junior Faculty Award, Anxiety Disorders Association of America
  • 2007: 1st Place Poster Award: Indianapolis Chapter of Society for Neuroscience Meeting
  • 2005: Organon Prize: Most outstanding article of 2005, J. Psychopharmacology
  • 2003: Brain: Journal of Neurology Travel Award
  • 2002: University of Bristol Alumni Travel Award
  • 2002: Neuroendocrinology Charitable Trust Travel Award
  • 1999: USD Biology Departmental Travel Award
  • 1998: Phi Sigma Honorary Society


CV in PDF format

My overall career goal is to integrate preclinical and clinical research to investigate the mechanisms of centrally regulated anxiety and panic-associated behavior that coincides with cardio-respiratory and thermoregulatory activity, and determine how these systems contribute to menopausal symptoms (e.g., hot flashes and anxiety) from loss of estrogen tone; neuropsychiatric disorders such as panic disorder and post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD); and respiratory disorders such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder (COPD).  To accomplish this I employ a variety of techniques such as: development and use of animal models (i.e., “hot flashes”,  panic disorder, PTSD and COPD); site specific brain target and peripheral pharmacological interventions; functional neuroanatomical techniques (tract tracing and ex vivo functional imaging); cell and region specific neuronal lesions, genetically silencing critical proteins using small interfering RNA within these regions [e.g., neuropeptides, receptors, transporters or synthesizing enzymes].  I am also receiving training from and collaborating with Luis DeLecea from Stanford University (whom co-discovered the orexin peptide in 1998) on the use of optogenetics to inhibit or activate specific neurochemical systems in vivo.  These techniques, when utilized collectively, produce a detailed understanding of not only the putative neuronal circuitry involved in the regulation of behavior and associated autonomic and respiratory activity, but also how disruption of this neuronal circuitry lead to aberrant behavior and physiology.  This information then becomes vital to understanding treatment mechanisms and which can then lead to elucidating new and selective targets for acute and potentially long-term treatments of associated disorders and for screening potentially useful pharmacological and even genetic treatments.

  1. Lungwitz E, Molosh A, Johnson PL, Dietrich A, Kelley P, Fitz SD, Shekhar A, Truitt W; Anxiety-like responses induced by orexin A in the BNST are attenuated by NMDA antagonism. Physiology and Behavior, May 28, 2012, Epub ahead of print
  2. Johnson PL, Fitz SD, Engleman EA, Svensson KA, Schkeryantz JM, Shekhar A. Group II metabotropic glutamate receptor type 2 allosteric potentiators prevent sodium lactate-induced panic-like response in panic-vulnerable rats. (2012 in press Journal of Psychopharmacology.
  3. Johnson PL, Samuels BC, Fitz SD, Lightman S, Lowry CA, Shekhar A. The orexin system is critical for a subset of adaptive responses to acute hypercapnia. (2012, in press Neuropsychopharmacology)
  4. Johnson PL, Molosh AI, Shekhar A.  Orexin/hypocretin’s role in adaptive and pathological panic and anxiety. (2012, invited chapter, in press, Progress in Brain Research)
  5. Johnson PL, Samuels BC, Fitz SD, Federici LM, Hammes N, Early MC, Dietrich A, Truitt W, Lowry CA, Shekhar A. Orexin 1 receptors are a novel target to modulate panic responses and brain network. (2012, in press, invited submission for Physiology and Behavior).
  6. Johnson PL, Shekhar A. An animal model of panic vulnerability with chronic inhibition of the dorsomedial hypothalamus. (2012, in press, invited review for Physiology and Behavior).
  7.  Donner NC, Johnson PL, Fitz SD, Kellen KE, Shekhar A, Lowry CA. Elevated tph2 mRNA expression in a rat model of chronic anxiety. (2012 in press, Depression and Anxiety) 2012 Winner of the Donald Klein Young Investigator Award at Anxiety Disorders Association of America meeting.
  8. Brittain JM, Duarte DB, Wilson SM, Zhu W, Ballard C, Johnson PL, Liu N, Xiong W, Ripsch MS, Wang Y, Fehrenbacher JC, Fitz SD, Khanna M, Park C, Schmutzler BS, Cheon BM, Due MR, Brustovetsky T, Ashpole NM, Hudmon A, Meroueh SO, Hingtgen CM, Brustovetsky N, Ji R, Hurley JH, Jin X, Shekhar A, Xu X,  Oxford GS, Vasko MR, White FA, Khanna R. Suppression of inflammatory and neuropathic pain by uncoupling CRMP-2 from the presynaptic Ca2+ channel complex, Nat Med. 2011 Jun 5;17(7):822-9.
  9. Lukkes J, Staub DR, Dietrich A, Truitt B, Chen A, Johnson PL, Shekhar A, Lowry CADistribution of corticotropin-releasing factor type 2 (CRF2) receptor-like immunoreactivity in the rat dorsal raphe nucleus. Neuroscience, 2011 Jun 2;183:47-63.
  10. Shekhar A, Johnson PL, Fitz SD, Nakazato A, Chaki S, Steckler T, Schmidt M. A selective, non-peptide CRF receptor 1 antagonist prevents sodium lactate-induced acute panic-like responses. Int J Neuropsychopharmacol. 2011 Apr;14(3):355-65
  11. Johnson PL, Fitz SD, Moratalla R, Lightman SL, Shekhar A, Lowry CA.  Induction of c-Fos in "fight or flight"-related brain circuits following brief hypercarbic gas exposure. J. Psychopharmacology 2011 Jan;25(1):26-36
  12. Hale MW, Johnson PL, Westerman AM, Abrams JK, Shekhar A, Lowry CA. Multiple anxiogenic drugs recruit a parvalbumin-containing subpopulation of GABAergic interneurons in the basolateral amygdala. Prog Neuropsychopharmacol Biol Psychiatry. 2010 Oct 1;34(7):1285-93.
  13. Johnson PL*, Truitt W*, Fitz SD, Kelley P, Dietrich A, Sanghani S, Shekhar A. Orexin may be a key substrate in panic and anxiety. Nature Medicine 2010 Jan;16(1):111-5. * indicates equal contribution

Popular Press coverage

  • NIMH Science Update December 28, 2009 “Runaway Vigilance Hormone Linked to Panic Attacks”
  • Wall Street Journal online, Dec 29th 2009, “Attacking Panic” Jeremy Singer Vine
  • Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) JAMA. 2010;303(6):498. “Hormone my play role in triggering panic attacks” Bridget W. Kuehn
  • Faculty 1000 Biology, Thomas W von Geldern, “Don’t Panic!”
  • Science Business Exchange, “Putting anxiety to rest” By Lev Osherovich, Senior Writer
  • Geek, January 16, 2010...11:49 pm, Keep calm and carry on: as long as your orexin levels are low
  • Molosh AI*, Johnson PL*, Fitz SD, DiMicco JA, Nicol GD, Rainnie DG, Shekhar A.  Sodium, not lactate, is critical for sodium lactate induced panic responses in an animal model of panic involving the AV3V and dorsomedial hypothalamus Neuropsychopharmacology 2010, May;35(6):1333-47. * indicates equal contribution


    Department of Anatomy & Cell Biology | IU School of Medicine | 635 Barnhill Drive, MS 5035 | Indianapolis, IN 46202 | (317) 274-7494