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Stephanie Matt

Stephanie Matt, PhD

Research Assistant Professor

Department: Pharmacology & Physiology


  • PhD, Neuroscience, University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign (2018)
  • BS, Psychology and Neuroscience, University of Delaware (2013)

Awards & Honors

  • Mentored Research Scientist Career Development Award (K01), NIMH (2023)
  • 1st Place Postdoctoral Poster Presentation, American Society for Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics (ASPET) (2023)
  • Daniel T O’Connor Young Investigator Travel Award, The Catecholamine Society (2023)
  • Comprehensive NeuroHIV Center Developmental Research and Mentorship Core NIMH Pilot Grant (2023)
  • Most Outstanding Postdoctoral Showcase Oral Presentation, American Society for Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics (ASPET) (2022)
  • Cotswold Foundation Postdoctoral Fellowship (2022)
  • Young Investigator Award for Most Outstanding Presentation, Society on Neuroimmune Pharmacology (2019)
  • Early Career Investigator Travel Award, Society on Neuroimmune Pharmacology (2019)
  • Brody Family Medical Trust Fund Fellowship (2019)
  • Paul D. Doolen Graduate Scholarship for the Study of Aging, University of Illinois (2016)

Memberships / Professional Affiliations

  • Executive Board Member, American Society for Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics
  • Member, Psychoneuroimmunology Research Society
  • Member, Society for Neuroscience
  • Member, International Society of Neurovirology
  • Member, Society of Neuroimmune Pharmacology

Stephanie Matt, PhD, is a research assistant professor in the Department of Pharmacology & Physiology at Drexel University College of Medicine.

Research Interests

HIV pathogenesis, myeloid biology, neuroimmunology, psychiatric disease, antidepressant pharmacology, aging, epigenetic regulation


Dr. Matt’s research in the Gaskill Lab investigates how depression and antidepressant therapies regulate HIV dynamics and inflammatory signaling in human myeloid cells.

Neurological complications of HIV infection (neuroHIV) remain prevalent even with antiretroviral therapy (ART). Additionally, neuroHIV progression can be worsened by depression, an increasingly common complication in people with HIV. Depression is often associated with an inflammatory state in myeloid cells like macrophages and microglia, which are the target cells for HIV and important drivers of HIV neuropathogenesis. However, inflammatory links between HIV, depression, and the drugs used to treat both are not well understood. Recent work suggests these factors may be linked to neurotransmitter signaling, as HIV, depression, and antidepressants act on receptors and transporters that alter neurotransmission, and neurotransmitter receptors on immune cells can influence inflammatory signaling and HIV infection. Therefore, changes in neurotransmitter levels by antidepressants may affect the size of myeloid HIV reservoirs, which could worsen neuroHIV and influence depression and treatment resistance.

We evaluate how antidepressants and ART influence viral dynamics and inflammation in myeloid cells using multifaceted in vitro approaches, including advanced molecular and high-throughput imaging technologies. We routinely examine primary macrophages derived from clinical cohorts of depressed people living with HIV, iPSC-derived microglia and macrophages, and iPSC-derived microglia/neuron co-cultures. Our studies aim to identify effective therapies to mitigate treatment-resistant depression, suboptimal ART efficacy, and persistent cognitive symptoms in people living with HIV.

We are also interested in how neurotransmitters and drugs that modulate neurotransmitter levels affect myeloid cell inflammatory function via epigenetic regulation and aging. As the average lifespan continues to rise, an increasing number of people are suffering from multiple age-related, chronic inflammatory diseases. Growing evidence indicates age-related disease is related to both neurotransmitter dysfunction and epigenetic dysregulation of myeloid activity. Thus, understanding these mechanisms could help us to develop new therapeutic strategies to manage comorbidities and reduce cognitive deficits and neurodegeneration as we age.


Selected Publications

“Dopamine, Immunity and Disease”
Channer B, Matt SM, Nickoloff-Bybel EA, Pappa V, Agarwal Y, Wickman J, Gaskill PJ
Pharmacological Reviews. Jan;75(1):62-158. doi: 10.1124/pharmrev.122.000618. Epub 2022 Dec 8. PMID: 36757901 (2023)

“Targeting neurotransmitter-mediated inflammatory mechanisms of psychiatric drugs to mitigate the double burden of multimorbidity and polypharmacy”
Matt, SM
Brain, Behavior and Immunity - Health, doi: 10.1016/j.bbih.2021.100353 (December 2021)

“Dopamine Levels Induced by Substance Abuse Alter Efficacy of Maraviroc and Expression of CCR5 Conformations on Myeloid Cells: Implications for NeuroHIV”
Matt, SM, Nickoloff-Bybel, E, Rong, Y, Runner, K, Johnson, HS, O’Connor, M, El Haddad, EK, Gaskill, PJ
Front Immunol. doi:10.3389/fimmu.2021.663061 (May 2021)

“Where Is Dopamine and how do Immune Cells See it?: Dopamine-Mediated Immune Cell Function in Health and Disease”
Matt SM, Gaskill, PJ
J Neuroimmune Pharmacol, 15(1):114-164. doi: 10.1007/s11481-019-09851-4 (2020)

“Dopamine activates NF-B and primes the NLRP3 inflammasome in primary human macrophages”
Nolan, RA, Reeb, KL, Rong, Y, Matt, SM, Johnson, HS, Runner, K, Gaskill, PJ
Brain, Behavior and Immunity – Health. doi: 10.1016/j.bbih.2019.100030 (2019)

“Dopaminergic impact of cART and anti-depressants on HIV Neuropathogenesis in older adults”
Matt, SM, Gaskill, Peter J
Brain Res, 1723, 146398. PMCID: PMC6766423 doi: 10.1016/j.brainres.2019.146398 (November 2019)

“Maternal viral infection causes global alterations in porcine fetal microglia”
Antonson AM, Lawson MA, Caputo MP, Matt SM, Leyshon BJ, Johnson RW
Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A, 116(40):20190-20200. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1817014116 (2019)

“Inhibition of DNA methylation with zebularine alters lipopolysaccharide-induced neuroinflammation in mice”
Matt, SM, Zimmerman, JD, Lawson, MA, Bustamante, AC, Uddin, M, Johnson, RW
Front Neurosci, 12(636). doi:10.3389/fnins.2018.00636 (2018)

“Butyrate and dietary soluble fiber improve neuroinflammation associated with aging in mice”
Matt, SM, Allen, JM, Lawson, MA, Mailing, LJ, Woods, JA, Johnson, RW
Front Immunol, 9(1832). doi:10.3389/fimmu.2018.01832 (2018)

“Aging and peripheral lipopolysaccharide can modulate epigenetic regulators and decrease IL-1beta promoter DNA methylation in microglia”
Matt, SM, Lawson, MA, Johnson, RW
Neurobiol Aging, 47, 1-9. doi:10.1016/j.neurobiolaging.2016.07.006 (2016)

“Bdnf DNA methylation modifications in the hippocampus and amygdala of male and female rats exposed to different caregiving environments outside the homecage”
Roth, TL, Matt, SM, Chen, K, Blaze, J
Dev Psychobiol, n/a-n/a. doi:10.1002/dev.21218 (2014)

Contact Information

Department of Pharmacology & Physiology
245 N. 15th Street
Mail Stop 488
Philadelphia, PA 19102
Phone: 267.359.2741
Fax: 215.762.2299