Faculty Appointments: 
Research Professor of Anesthesiology and Critical Care at University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine (2008– present)
Research Professor of Pediatrics at University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine (2000 – 2008)
Office Location: 
Children's Hospital of Philadelphia 3615 Civic Center Blvd. Abramson Bldg., 402C

Dr. Valentino conducts research related to how stress leads to psychiatric or medical disorders, specifically how neurohormonal and/or neurochemical substrates of the stress response (i.e., corticotropin-releasing factor, glucocorticoids) interact with classical neurotransmitter systems to regulate the response to stress and how this plays a role in stress-related diseases.

Mechanisms of stress-induced plasticity; MechanismS of action of pscyhotherapeutic drugs; Central regulation of visceral functions; Functions of monoamine systems.

electrophysiology, functional neuroanatomy, behavior, pharmacology

I am investigating how stress leads to psychiatric and medical disorders. Specifically, my research centers on the stress-related neuropeptide, corticotropin-releasing factor (CRF). CRF targets and alters the activity of brain monoamine systems that have been implicated in depression and anxiety. We are studying how exposure to repeated stress or to a single severe stress produces long-term changes in the response of these neuronal systems to subsequent stressors. These changes may underlie some of the symptoms of a variety of stress-related medical and behavioral disorders, including attention disorders, anxiety, depression, substance abuse and functional bowel disorders.

An important aspect of my work involves treatment intervention, or determining how to manipulate the effects of CRF using drugs to prevent the long-term impact of severe or repeated stress.

We are also mapping out and studying neuronal circuits that link the brain and gastrointestinal tract. Using neuroanatomical and electrophysiological approaches we identified a neural circuit that is positioned to coregulate pelvic (bladder and colon) functions with cortical activity and thereby may underlie the comorbidity of colonic and psychiatric disorders. The pharmacological manipulation of components of this circuit may prove useful in treating incontinence as well as pelvic visceral disorders that are often accompanied by anxiety and depression.

Ph.D., Pharmacology, University of Michigan (1980)
B.S., Highest Distinction (Pharmacy), University of Rhode Island (1975)
Selected Publications
Wood Susan K, McFadden Kile, Griffin Tagan, Wolfe John H, Zderic Stephen A, Valentino Rita J. A Corticotropin-releasing Factor Receptor Antagonist Improves Urodynamic Dysfunction Produced by Social Stress or Partial Bladder Outlet Obstruction in Rats.. American Journal of Physiology. Regulatory, Integrative and Comparative Physiology. 2013 Apr.
Wood Susan K, Zhang Xiao-Yan, Reyes Beverly A S, Lee Catherine S, Van Bockstaele Elisabeth J, Valentino Rita J. Cellular Adaptations of Dorsal Raphe Serotonin Neurons Associated with the Development of Active Coping in Response to Social Stress.. Biological Psychiatry. Vol 73. 2013 Feb:1087-1094.