Research

Drug abuse and mental illness

Drug abuse represents one of the most significant health challenges in the 21st century, with major impacts on individual health and societal support. Closely linked to this problem are the both causative and resultant effects on mental health. Faculty in this group are investigating the cellular and behavioral effects of drugs of abuse, employing genetic through behavioral techniques. The goal of these studies is to improve the treatment of medical disorders through a better understanding of the pharmacology of agents and their mechanisms of action with the purpose of developing safer and more effective pharmacological therapies as well as elucidating the basic mechanisms of drug actions and addiction.

Hamid Akbarali, Ph.D.
Mechanism of action of opiates, cannabinoids and nicotine in enteric and sensory neurons

Patrick M. Beardsley, Ph.D.
Behavioral pharmacology of drugs of abuse; development of medication for CNS disorders

Jill C. Bettinger, Ph.D.
Physiological effects of alcohol on synaptic transmission and behavior

Darlene H. Brunzell, Ph.D.
Molecular, genetic and behavioral contributions to etiology of drug abuse and mental illness in males and females

M. Imad Damaj, Ph.D. 
Pharmacology of nicotine and nicotinic receptors; behavioral pharmacology; mouse genetics, drug development

Andrew G. Davies, Ph.D.
Neurobiology of alcohol intoxication and tolerance; C. elegans behavioral genetics and neuroscience

William L. Dewey, Ph.D.
Action of drugs of abuse, with emphasis on the opioids; mechanisms of opioid tolerance and physical dependence

Michael S. Grotewiel, Ph.D.
Molecular genetic bases of aging and alcohol-related behavior in the fruit fly Drosophila melanogaster; understanding the molecular events underlying aging (especially age-related functional declines) and nervous system responses to acute exposure to alcohol

Kurt F. Hauser, Ph.D.
Human immunodeficiency virus type 1 neuropathogenesis and its relationship to substance abuse; molecular mechanisms by which drug abuse alters CNS organization and function

Kenneth S. Kendler, M.D.
Genetic epidemiology of schizophrenia, depression, alcoholism and anxiety disorders; twin studies; family studies; biometrical models for psychiatric genetics; large scale genome-wide association and sequencing studies of schizophrenia, depression and alcohol dependence

Aron H. Lichtman, Ph.D. 
Physiological function of the endocannabinoid system; mechanisms and pharmacological effects of THC and other cannabinoids

Michael F. Miles, M.D., Ph.D.
Molecular mechanisms of experience-dependent plasticity occurring with drug abuse; molecular mechanisms underlying sensitization to cocaine or ethanol

S. Stevens Negus, Ph.D. 
Behavioral pharmacology of analgesic and abused drugs

Gretchen N. Neigh, Ph.D. 
Neurobiology of depression and anxiety; psychoneuroimmunology; psychoneuroendocrinology; neurobiology of affective disorders co-morbid with somatic disease

Katherine L. Nicholson, Ph.D., D.V.M.
Behavioral pharmacology of drugs of abuse, particularly drugs that alter glutamate neurotransmission

Joseph Porter, Ph.D.
Behavioral pharmacology of antipsychotic drugs used for the treatment of schizophrenia; animal models for schizophrenia, depression and anxiety

Carmen Sato-Bigbee, Ph.D.
Regulation of oligodendrocyte differentiation and myelin formation during brain development; mechanisms of demyelination/remyelination in multiple sclerosis; perinatal opioid exposure and central nervous development

Dana E. Selley, Ph.D.
Mechanism of action of G-protein-coupled receptors, especially those that mediate the effects of psychoactive drugs such as opiates, cannabinoids and antidepressants

Keith L. Shelton, Ph.D.
Behavioral pharmacology of abused inhalants, stimulants and alcohol; neurochemical mechanisms of subjective drug effects; behavioral mechanisms of relapse

Laura J. Sim-Selley, Ph.D.
Functional neuroanatomy of G-protein-coupled receptors, opioid and cannabinoid receptors; tolerance and dependence

Sandra P. Welch, Ph.D.
Cellular pharmacology, particularly the role of free intracellular calcium in tolerance and physical dependence to drugs of abuse; endocrine modulation of tolerance; second messenger systems

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