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School of Psychology
Academic Staff
Stella Vlachou photo
Phone number: 01 700
Glasnevin Campus
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Academic biography

Dr. Stella Vlachou, B.Sc., Ph.D., is an Assistant Professor in Psychology in the School of Psychology, Dublin City University (DCU), and Director of the Neuropsychopharmacology Unit of the Behavioural Neuroscience Laboratory at DCU. She is also the Associate Dean for External Engagement and Internationalisation at the Faculty of Science and Health since September 2021. She was the Chairperson of the BSc in Psychology Programme at DCU from July 2018 until September 2022.

She received her BSc in Psychology from the Department of Psychology, University of Crete, Greece, in 2001 (graduated 1st in the School of Social Sciences). In 2006, she received her Ph.D. in Neuropsychopharmacology from the Department of Psychology at the University of Crete, Greece, under the supervision of Dr. George Panagis, Associate Professor in Biopsychology. Her Ph.D. dissertation focused on the role of the endogenous cannabinoid system on behaviour and reward mechanisms. During her Ph.D. studies, Dr. Vlachou also investigated the effects of cannabinoid compounds on cocaine- and alcohol-induced reinforcement as an EU Marie-Curie Pre-doctoral Fellow (supervisor Professor David N. Stephens, University of Sussex, Brighton, UK, 2003). Towards the end of her Ph.D. studies, she worked as a researcher in a collaborative project with the pharmaceutical company Bristol-Myers Squibb and the Departments of Pharmacology of the Medical Schools of the Universities of Athens, Ioannina and Heraklion (all three are Universities in Greece) to conduct research on the analgesic, psychomotor and psychotropic effects of novel cannabinoid analogs.

From 2007 until 2011, Dr. Vlachou worked as a Post-doctoral Research Fellow in the laboratory of Professor Athina Markou at the Department of Psychiatry of the University of California at San Diego (UCSD), extensively investigating the role of gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) neurotransmission in nicotine dependence through a collaborative grant received from the National Institute of Health (NIH, USA). More specifically, she examined the effects of gamma-aminobutyric acid B (GABAB) receptor compounds on the reinforcing effects of nicotine or the depression-like aspects of nicotine withdrawal. Further, in 2009, Dr. Vlachou received a post-doctoral fellowship award from the State of California (Tobacco-Related Disease Research Program) to investigate the effects of GABA in impulsivity and nicotine dependence.

Dr. Vlachou joined the BSc in Psychology Programme (previously in the School of Nursing and Human Sciences; SNHS) at DCU in September 2011.

Since 2011, she has been the Module Co-Ordinator for: NS125 Biological Psychology 1; NS228 Biological Psychology 2; NS144 Philosophy of Psychology; NS337 Psychopharmacology; NS4539 Behavioural Neuroscience Methods (2011-2018); NS4531 Psychology Individual Research Project.

Other Internal Academic Roles - University Committee Memberships:
Ethics Advisory Committee, SNHS, DCU (2014-2016)

Research Committee, SNHS, DCU (2014-2018)

Co-ordinator of the Undergraduate Student Summer Internship Scheme (2015-2018), SNHS, DCU

International Convenor, School of Psychology (2019-2023)

Research interests

Dr. Vlachou's main research interests include:

Interactions between drugs of abuse and brain reward systems;

The role of the endogenous cannabinoid system in behaviour and reward;

The role of GABAB receptor compounds on the reinforcing effects of nicotine or the depression-like aspects of nicotine withdrawal; The role of GABAB receptors on neuropsychiatric disorders;

Interactions of drugs of abuse, such as nicotine, cocaine, alcohol and cannabinoids, and their effects in impulsivity and drug dependence during adolescence and adulthood;

Effects of alkaloid and flavonoid compounds on behaviour and drug dependence;

Animal models of sensorimotor disorders.

The Neuropsychopharmacology Unit of the Behavioural Neuroscience Laboratory at DCU is actively looking for highly motivated, curious, and enthusiastic research assistants and/or graduate students to help us investigate research questions related to the above topics of interest.