Daniel Savage received his Ph.D. in Pharmacology from the University of Pennsylvania.  After his postdoctoral training at Duke University, he joined the Department of Pharmacology at UNM School of Medicine in 1983.  He was the Founding Chair of the UNM’s Department of Neurosciences in 1997 and served as its Chair until 2019.  He is also the Director of the New Mexico Alcohol Research Center, a NIAAA-designated Specialized Alcohol Research Center, whose focus is on Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder.

Areas of Specialty

Neurotransmitter Receptor Pharmacology
Hippocampal Synaptic Plasticity
Behavioral Pharmacology
Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder


Post-Doc, Behavioral Neuroscience (1982):
Duke University
Durham, NC

Phd, Pharmacology (1980):
University of Pennsylvania
Philadelphia, PA

BS, Biology (1973):
University of Richmond
Richmond, VA

Achievements & Awards

  • Distinguished Professor Award, UNM School of Medicine - 2015
  • Henry Rosett Award for Excellence in Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders Research - 2011
  • A. Earl Walker Award for Excellence in Neuroscience Research at UNM - 2007
  • “Teacher of the Year” Award, Phase I Undergraduate Medical Curriculum - 1999
  • Regents’ Professorship Award, UNM Board of Regents - 1996
  • “An Apple for the Teacher” Award for Excellence in Medical School Teaching - 1994
  • "An Apple for the Teacher" Award for Excellence in Biomedical Graduate Teaching - 1993
  • Dean's Fellowship Award for Biomedical Research, UNM School of Medicine - 1991

Key Publications

  • Sutherland, R.J., McDonald, R.J. and Savage, D.D.:  Prenatal exposure to moderate levels of ethanol can have long-lasting effects on hippocampal synaptic plasticity in adult offspring.  Hippocampus.  1997;7(2):232-8. doi: 10.1002/(SICI)1098-1063(1997)7:2<232::AID-HIPO9>3.0.CO;2-O.  PMID:  9136052.
  • Costa, E.T., Olivera, D.S., Meyer, D.A., Ferreira, V.M.M., Soto, E.E., Frausto, S., Browning, M.D., Savage, D.D. and Valenzuela, C.F.:  Fetal alcohol exposure alters neurosteroid modulation of hippocampal NMDA receptors.  J Biol Chem. 2000 Dec 8;275(49):38268-74. doi: 10.1074/jbc.M004136200.  PMID:  10988286.
  • Savage, D.D., Becher, M., de la Torre, A.J. and Sutherland, R.J.:  Dose-dependent effects of prenatal ethanol exposure on synaptic plasticity and learning in mature offspring.  Alcohol Clin Exp Res. 2002 Nov;26(11):1752-8. doi: 10.1097/01.ALC.0000038265.52107.20.  PMID:  12436066.
  • Hamilton, D.A., Kodituwakku, P., Sutherland, R.J. and Savage, D.D.:  Children with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome are impaired at place learning but not cued-navigation in a virtual Morris water task.  Behav Brain Res. 2003 Jul 14;143(1):85-94.  doi: 10.1016/s0166-4328(03)00028-7.  PMID:  12842299.
  • Varaschin RK, Akers KG, Rosenberg MJ, Hamilton DA, Savage DD.  Effects of the cognition-enhancing agent ABT-239 on fetal ethanol-induced deficits in dentate gyrus synaptic plasticity.  J Pharmacol Exp Ther. 2010 Jul;334(1):191-8.  doi: 10.1124/jpet.109.165027. Epub 2010 Mar 22.  PMID:  20308329
  • Savage DD, Rosenberg MJ, Wolff CR, Akers KG, El-Emawy A, Staples MC, Varaschin RK, Wright CL, Seidel JL, Caldwell KK, Hamilton DA.  Effects of a Novel Cognition-Enhancing Agent on Fetal Ethanol-Induced Learning Deficits.  Alcohol Clin Exp Res. 2010 Oct;34(10):1793-802.  doi: 10.1111/j.1530-0277.2010.01266.x. Epub 2010 Jul 9.  PMID:  20626729. 


He, Him


  • English


Our research examines whether the consumption of moderate amounts of ethanol during pregnancy  results in long-lasting damage in brain function in ethanol-exposed offspring. Using a rat model of moderate prenatal ethanol exposure, we have observed subtle but persistent neurochemical changes in brain of offspring. These changes occur in specific brain regions involved in the consolidation of memory, both in rats as well as in humans. The neurochemical alterations caused by prenatal ethanol exposure decrease activity-dependent potentiation of synaptic communication between neurons that leads to functional deficits in these brain regions. We believe that these changes may contribute to the learning disabilities observed in children whose mothers drank during pregnancy. Our current studies include preclincial screening of putative therapeutic agents for treating prenatal ethanol-induced learning deficits, and the development of novel biomarkers for the early detection of prenatal alcohol-induced functional brain damage.

Courses Taught

  • Medical Neuropharmacology
  • Principles of Medical Pharmacology
  • Principles of Neurobiology
  • Developmental Neurotoxicology
  • Neurochemistry & Neuropharmacology
  • Principles of Neuropharmacology