Dr. Marco Orru’

M.Sc., Ph.D. in Applied Pharmacology

Associate Professor




University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences, College of Public Health   2015-2016

Graduate Certificate in Regulatory Science

Coursework: FDA regulations, Toxicology in public Health, Design and management of clinical trials, Risk assessment, Good clinical/laboratory/manufacturing practices, QA and QC.

University of Cagliari, Italy, Faculty of Medicine and Surgery       2003-2007

Ph.D., Applied Pharmacology.

Dissertation: Study the role of GABAB receptors agonist baclofen in the spontaneous PPI deficits displayed by DBA/2J mice.

University of Cagliari, Italy, Faculty of Mathematic, Physic and Natural Sciences           1997-2002

Master of Science degree, Biology.


Precarpathian National University (PNU), Ukraine                                                             2021- current

Assistant Professor/Lecturer, Department of Biochemistry and biotechnology

I currently combines research and teaching activities at PNU. I am focusing my research on the characterization of biochemical and molecular mechanisms phytobiotic compounds on neurodevelopmental disorders in animal models of aging.


Regulatory: FDA and EMEA regulations, toxicology in public health, risk-benefit analyses and risk management processes of regulatory science for industry, government, and academia; Design and management of clinical trials; Current GMP, GLP and GCP practices; Quality Assurance (QA) and quality control (QC).

Research: Pharmacology and Toxicology; Neuroscience; Behavioral and molecular mechanisms of neurotoxicology; Biochemistry and cell biology; dietary supplements.


University of Utah, College of Pharmacy                   2016-2020

Senior Research Associate, Division of Pharmacology and Toxicology.

Identify biomarkers and therapeutical targets that may assist in the prevention and treatment of pramipexole-increased risk-taking behaviors. Designed and conducted pharmacological studies to explore the mechanisms of pramipexole in the selection of risky choices in rodents. Designed, wrote and sent manuscripts/grants/fellowship proposals. Responsible for mentoring students.

National Center for Toxicological Research, FDA, Little Rock, AR          2014-2016

Staff Fellow, Division of Neurotoxicology.

Coordinated and executed pharmacological, drug screening studies for FDA relevant research proposals. Wrote and reviewed research projects, abstracts, and NCTR animal protocols. Developed and optimized UHPLC analytical methods for drug screening and for measuring neurotransmitters level. Maintained records and test results following the FDA good laboratory practices (GLP) guidelines.

Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) Boston, MA       2013-2014 Research Fellow, Department of Neurology, Molecular Neurobiology Lab.

Responsible for the project examining the functional and pharmacological significance of the protein alpha-synuclein in a transgenic animal model of Parkinson’s disease. Efficiently planned, analyzed, and presented experiments in a multidisciplinary environment.


National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), Baltimore, MD          2008-2013

Visiting fellow, Integrative Neurobiology Section.

Coordinated and executed pharmacological, drug screening studies on animal models of Huntington’s disease and addiction as targets for heteromeric receptors. Performed high throughput in vitro assays (ELISA, Western blotting) using cultured and primary mammalian cells. Designed and conducted pharmacological studies using behavioral tasks such as conditioned place preference (CPP) and open field arena or complex operant behavior paradigms.


Karolinska Institute, Department of Neuroscience, Sweden              2007

Visiting Ph.D. student, Neuro Behavioral Pharmacology lab.


Online training course in psychological and pedagogical disciplines    2019-2020

One-year course on pedagogical teaching methodologies and technologies.

AALAS online training certifications, University of Utah  2016-present

Basic courses including: aseptic techniques for rodent survival surgeries; Common animal studies compliance issues; Occupational health and safety, Pain management in laboratory animals; Post-procedural care of mice and rats in research.

IACUC training, University of Utah               2016-present

Basic course; Collaborative Institutional training Initiative (CITI).

Biohazardous waste management annual training.

Introduction to biosafety (levels 1 & 2), annual training, FDA   2014–2016

Emergency procedures for non-human primate associated accidents annual training.


Invited Reviewer, Current Pharmaceutical Design, Bentham Science Editors     2020-current

Invited Reviewer, PLOS ONE, PLOS             2015-current

Invited Reviewer, Experimental Neurology, Elsevier         2014-current

Invited Reviewer, Neuropharmacology, Elsevier    2014-current


Behavioral:  Pre-pulse inhibition of the startle reflex (PPI), Open Field Arena (locomotor activity), Conditioned Place preference (CPP), Active/passive Avoidance, Drug discrimination (DD), Self-administration (SA), T-Maze, Y-Maze and Radial-Maze, Sleep Deprivation test. Biochemical/molecular: Western Blot Gel Electrophoresis – SDS-PAGE, ELISA, immunofluorescence, PCR. IHC sectioning and staining

Cellular:  cell culture and tissue staining.

Microscopy: Stereo and Confocal microscopy, staining of slices, image acquisition and analysis. Analytical: Extensive experiences on HPLC, UHPLC and troubleshooting.

Animal: Rodent manipulation, colony good health keeper, and stereotaxic surgeries (probes and cannulas implantation, IV catheterization).

Electrophysiology: EEG and electrophysiological “single unit” cell recording.

Computer: Knowledge of OS (Windows 98, 2000, XP, Vista and Macintosh OSX), Office package (Word, Excel, PowerPoint) and statistical software (GraphPad Prism) and LI-COR system.


Running, reading, traveling, volunteering and learning new languages. I also love skiing, playing soccer and going to the beach whenever is possible.

MOST RECENT PEER REVIEWED PUBLICATIONS (selection out of 25 publications)


  1. Orrù M, Strathman HJ, Floris G, Scheggi S, Levant B, Bortolato M. The adverse effects of pramipexole on probability discounting are not reversed by acute D(2) or D(3) receptor antagonism. Eur Neuropsychopharmacol. 2020 Jan 23.doi: 10.1016/j.euroneuro.2020.01.005. [Epub ahead of print] PubMed PMID: 31983530.
  2. Guitart X, Bonaventura J, Rea W, Orrú M, Cellai L, Dettori I, Pedata F, Brugarolas M, Cortés A, Casadó V, Chang CP, Narayanan M, Chern Y, and Ferré S. Equilibrative Nucleoside Transporter ENT1 as a Biomarker of Huntington Disease. Neurobilogy of Diseases, 2016.
  3. Xu K, Di Luca DG, Orrú M, Xu Y, Chen JF, Schwarzschild MA. Neuroprotection by caffeine in the MPTP model of Parkinson’s disease and its dependence on adenosine A2A receptors. Neuroscience, February 2016.
  4. Quiroz C, Orrú M, Rea W, Ciudad-Roberts A, Yepes G, Britt JP, Wise RA and Ferré S. Direct Control of Extracellular Dopamine Levels in the Medial Nucleus Accumbens by the Infralimbic Cortex. Journal of Neuroscience January 20, 2016.
  5. Orrú M, Guitart X, Karcz-Kubicha M, Solinas M, Justinova Z, Bakešová J, Brugarolas M, Barodia S, Zanoveli J, Ferré S. Psychostimulant pharmacological profile of paraxanthine, the main metabolite of caffeine in humans. Neuropharmacology. 2013 Apr; 67:476-84.
  6. Ferré S, Quiroz C, Orrú M, Guitart X, Gulyani S, Allen R, and Earley CJ. Role of Striatal A2A Receptor Subpopulations in Neurological Disorders. Adenosine: A Key Link between Metabolism and Brain Activity. 2012 (Book chapter).
  7. Orrú M, Zanoveli J, Quiroz C, Nguyen HP, Guitart X, Ferré S. Functional changes in postsynaptic adenosine A(2A) receptors during early stages of a rat model of Huntington disease. Exp Neurol. 2011 Aug 16
  8. Orrú M, Quiroz C, Guitart X, Ferré S. Pharmacological evidence for different populations of postsynaptic adenosine A(2A) receptors in the rat striatum. Neuropharmacology. 2011 Oct-Nov; 61(5-6):967-74.
  9. Ferré S, Quiroz C, Orru M, Guitart X, Navarro G, Cortés A, Casadó V, Canela EI, Lluis C, Franco R. Adenosine A(2A) Receptors and A(2A) Receptor Heteromers as Key Players in Striatal Function. Front Neuroanat. 2011; 5:36.
  10. Orrú M, Bakešová J, Brugarolas M, Quiroz C, Beaumont V, Canela E, Cortés A, Franco R, Casadó V, Lluís C, Ferré S. Striatal pre- and postsynaptic profile of adenosine A(2A) receptor antagonists. PLoS One, 2011 January; 6(1) e16088.
  11. Bortolato M, Frau R, Orrù M, Bourov Y, Marrosu F, Mereu G, Devoto P, Gessa GL. Antipsychotic-like properties of 5-alpha-reductase inhibitors. Neuropsychopharmacology. 2008 Dec; 33(13):3146-56.


  1. Orru’ M, Bakesova J, Brugolas M, Guitart X, Cortes A, Mallol J, Lluis C, Franco F, McCormick P, Casado V, Canela EI, Ferre S. Functional and pharmacological characterization of striatal adenosine A2A-cannabinoid CB1 receptor heteromers. New Orleans: Neuroscience 2012.
  2. Orru’ M, Zanoveli J, Guitart X, Quiroz C, Ferre’ S. Selective decrease in the function of postsynaptic striatal A2a receptors in presymptomatic stages of a rat model of Huntington’s disease. Washington, DC: Neuroscience 2011
  3. Orru’ M, Bakesova J, Brugolas M, Quiroz C, Beaumont V, Canela EI, Cortes A, Franco F, Casado V, Lluis C, Ferre S. Receptor heteromerization determines the striatal pre- and postsynaptic profile of adenosine A2A receptor antagonists. San Diego, CA: Neuroscience, 2010.
  4. Orru’ M, Quiroz C, Beaumont V, Ferre S. Different pre- and postsynaptic pharmacological profile of adenosine A2A receptor antagonists. Chicago, IL: Neuroscience, 2009.
  5. Gulyani, R. Wan, S. Ferre, C. Quiroz, M. Orru, C. J. Earley, R. Allen, M. P. Mattson. Mild dietary iron deficiency alters locomotor responses to adenosine receptor antagonists in mice: Implications for RLS. Washington, DC: Neuroscience, 2009.
  6. Bortolato, R. Frau, M. Orru, K. Chen, J. C. Shih. Monoamine oxidase A/B knockout mice are hypersensitive to the psychotomimetic effects of NMDA receptor blockade. San Diego (CA): Neuroscience, 2007.