Daniel C. Castro, PhD

Assistant Professor of Radiology

Research Centers:
Biophotonics Research Center
Castro Lab
Daniel C. Castro, PhD, is an assistant professor of radiology and a principal investigator in the Biophotonics Research Center, based in Mallinckrodt Institute of Radiology at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis. As an opioid biologist and experimental neuroscientist, Castro’s research focuses on how endogenous opioids modulate affective and motivational neural circuits that control appetitive behaviors. His research program investigates non-canonical mechanisms of action for endogenous opioids in affective neural circuits and peripheral metabolic organs. To achieve this goal, Castro’s lab uses a wide array of advanced neuroscience and optical imaging tools — for example, 3D anatomical mapping — to understand how complex neuropeptides function in endogenous and pathological states, and eventually develop more effective treatments for those suffering from affective or substance use disorders. Castro earned his doctorate at the University of Michigan, where he studied how various neuropeptides could modulate positively and negatively valenced behaviors throughout the brain. He then began his postdoctoral training at Washington University and later at the University of Washington. During this period, Castro sought to identify one of the primary mechanisms through which opioids act to potentiate motivated behaviors in a brain area called the nucleus accumbens. Additionally, he has contributed to the development of multiple wireless optofluidic technologies for in vivo neuroscience research. Castro is a member of the LGBTQ+ community, and he is committed to supporting and advocating for underrepresented groups in his lab, at Washington University and in the greater St. Louis area.

Research Interests

Neurobiology of positive and negative affect, endogenous opioids, ingestive behaviors, metabolism, addiction, wireless technology development for in vivo research, in vivo/deep tissue brain imaging

Link to Publications

Education History


University of Michigan


University of Michigan


University of Washington


American College of Neuropsychopharmacology
Diabetes Research Center
Hope Center for Neurological Disorders
International Narcotics Research Conference
Society for Neuroscience


2021 Inscopix Tech Award
2021 Early Career Scientist in Physiology and Pharmacology Award, Wake Forest University
2020 ACNP Travel Award
2019 Judy Su Travel Award
2019 Judy Su Award for Basic Science Research
2016 Rackham ProQuest Distinguished Dissertation Award, Honorable Mention
2016 Psychology Marquis Dissertation Award
2016 Biopsychology Wyvell Dissertation Award
2013 SSIB New Investigator Travel Award
2013 Rackham Graduate Student Research Grant, University of Michigan
2012–2015 Rackham Graduate School Travel Grant, University of Michigan