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Joanne Mathiasen

Joanne Mathiasen, PhD

Professor of Pharmacology & Physiology; Co-director, Drug Discovery & Development Program

Department: Pharmacology & Physiology


  • BS in Psychobiology – Albright College
  • PhD in Physiology – University of Kansas

Awards & Honors

  • Angelo Pinto Educator Award, Drexel University College of Medicine, 2023
  • Best Mentor Award, Interdisciplinary and Career Oriented Programs, Drexel University College of Medicine, 2022
  • Best Professor Award; Career Oriented Programs, Drexel University College of Medicine, 2018
  • Professional Enrichment and Growth Grant, Drexel University College of Medicine, 2016
  • Optimus Award for Consistently Outstanding Performance, McNeil Pharmaceutical, 1986

Joanne Mathiasen, PhD, is a professor in the Department of Pharmacology & Physiology, and co-director of the Drug Discovery & Development master's program at Drexel University College of Medicine. Prior to joining Drexel, she held pre-clinical CNS research positions at Johnson & Johnson, Cephalon and Teva as well as adjunct teaching appointments at Thomas Jefferson University School of Pharmacy in the Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences.

Dr. Mathiasen teaches and directs multiple departmental courses, including Advanced Pharmacology (517) and Current Topics in Drug Discovery & Development (527), and is co-director of Pharmacology 525 and 526 – Drug Discovery and Development. She is also the course director for Graduate Pharmacology (512) and Graduate Physiology (PHGY 503).

Research Overview

Dr. Mathiasen started her career in the pharmaceutical industry at McNeil Pharmaceutical (a division of JNJ), where she conducted CNS and cardiovascular research. After obtaining her PhD and completing a postdoctoral fellowship at Rosalind Franklin University of Medicine and Science, she contributed to the CNS research effort at Cephalon for 14 years leading programs in neurodegeneration, pain and cognition.

Research Interests

CNS drug discovery, behavioral pharmacology, neuropharmacology, pain and cognition


The focus of Dr. Mathiasen’s industry research has been on opioid-mediated analgesia, antipsychotic research, neurodegeneration, histamine H3 receptor antagonism, and developing animal models for pain and cognitive research. Her academic research involved serotonin and dopamine regulation of prolactin release and cellular regulation of vasopressin and oxytocin release.

Her early work on opiates demonstrated delta-mediated analgesia in mu receptor deficient mice. Subsequent studies in neurodegeneration revealed evidence of the involvement of the stress-activated protein kinase pathway in Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s diseases. More recently, her work established the cognitive enhancing effects of histamine H3 antagonists on short-term working memory that led to the advancement of a development candidate.

Dr. Mathiasen is considered an expert on the Functional Observational Battery (Irwin Test; modified and complete) which has enhanced the lead optimization pathway for multiple programs in industry. She was involved in the discovery of Topiramate and Risperidone.


Dr. Mathiasen is the author or co-author of more than 50 original papers.

Selected Publications

"The Irwin test and functional observational battery for assessing the effects of compounds on behavior, physiology and safety pharmacology in rodents"
Mathiasen JR and Moser VC
Current Protocols in Pharmacology;, Sep 4, 2018

"3-(1'-Cyclobutylspiro[4H-1,3-benzodioxine-2,4'-piperidine]-6yl)-5,5-dimethyl-1,4-dihydropyridazin-6-one (CEP-32215), a new wake-promoting histamine H3 antagonist/inverse agonist"
Hudkins RL, Gruner JA, Raddatz R, Mathiasen JR, Aimone LD, Marino MJ, Bacon ER, Williams M, and Ator MA
Neuropharmacology, pii: S0028-3908(15)30117-9, Sep 21, 2015

"Discovery of 7-arylsulfonyl-1,2,3,4, 4a,9a-hexahydro-benzo[4,5]furo[2,3-c]pyridines: identification of a potent and selective 5-HT₆ receptor antagonist showing activity in rat social recognition test"
Tripathy R., McHugh R.J., Bacon E.R., Salvino J.M., Morton G.C., Aimone L.D., Huang Z., Mathiasen J.R., DiCamillo A., Huffman M.J., McKenna B.A., Kopec K., Lu .LD., Qian J., Angeles T.S., Connors T, Spais C, Holskin B, Duzic E, Schaffhauser H, Rossé GC
Bioorg Med Chem Lett.; 22(3):1421-6, .Feb 1, 2012

"CEP-26401 (irdabisant), a potent and selective histamine H₃ receptor antagonist/inverse agonist with cognition-enhancing and wake-promoting activities"
Raddatz R, Hudkins RL, Mathiasen JR, Gruner JA, Le S, Schaffhauser H, Bozyczko-Coyne D, Marino MJ, Ator MA, Bacon ER, Mallamo JP and Williams M
J Pharmacol Exp Ther.; 340(1):124-33, Jan 2012

"Characterization of Pharmacological and Wake-Promoting Properties of the Dopaminergic Stimulant Sydnocarb in Rats"
Gruner, J.A., Mathiasen, J.R., Flood, D.G. and Gasior, M. 
JPET; 337(2):380-90 (Fast Forward, Feb 7, 2011), May 2011

"Discovery and characterization of 6-{4-[3-(R)-2-methylpyrrolidin-1-yl)propoxy]phenyl}-2H-pyridazin-3-one (CEP-26401, irdabisant): a potent, selective histamine H3 receptor inverse agonist"*
Hudkins R.L, Raddatz R., Tao M., Mathiasen J.R., Aimone L.D., Becknell N.C., Prouty C.P., Knutsen L.J., Yazdanian M., Moachon G., Ator M.A., Mallamo J.P., Marino M.J., Bacon E.R., Williams M.
J Med Chem.; 54(13):4781-92, July 14, 2011
*Highly cited article of 2011

"Novel Object Recognition in the Rat: a Facile Assay for Cognitive Function"
Mathiasen, J.R. and DiCamillo, A.M.
Current Protocols in Pharmacology; Chapter 5: Unit 5.59*, April 2010

"Social recognition assay in the rat"
Mathiasen, J.R. and DiCamillo, A.M.
Current Protocols in Neuroscience; Chapter 8:Unit 8.51, Oct 2010

"Dimebon is a 5-HT6 antagonist with acute cognitive enhancing activities"
Schaffhauser, H., Mathiasen, J. R., DiCamillo, A.M., Lu, L., Marino, M.J.
Biochemical Pharmacology; 78(8):1035-42, Oct 15, 2009

"Correlation between ex vivo receptor occupancy and wake promoting activity of selective H3 receptor antagonists"
Le, S., Gruner, J.A., Mathiasen, J.R., Marino, M.J., and Schaffhauser, H.
J. Pharmacol. Exp. Ther. 325:902-909, 2008

"Inhibition of Mixed Lineage Kinase (MLK) 3 prevents MPP+-induced neurotoxicity in SH-SY5Y cells"
Mathiasen, J.R., McKenna, B.A.W., Saporito, M.S., Ghadge, G.D., Roos, R.P., Holskin, B.P., Wu, Z-L., Trusko, S.P., Connors, T.C., Maroney, A.C., Bozyczko-Coyne, D. 
Br. Research 1003:86-97, 2004

Contact Information

Department of Pharmacology & Physiology
245 N. 15th Street
Mail Stop 488
Philadelphia, PA 19102
Office: NCB 8806
Phone: 215.762.8578
Fax: 215.762.2299