Our Research

Alcohol and NMDARs

This work is focused on understanding the interactions of ethanol with NMDA receptors-ionotropic glutamate receptors involved in excitatory synaptic transmission. We use mutagenesis, electrophysiology and behavior to study how altering the ethanol sensitivity of NMDA receptors changes the brain's response to alcohol. 

Abused Inhalants and Addiction Neurocircuitry

This research is focused on understanding the actions of abused inhalants such as toluene on the addiction neurocircuitry of the brain. Inhalants are an under-studied drug of abuse and have a relatively high incidence of use among children and adolescents. This works uses in vitro and in vivo techniques to determine how toluene and other inhalants affect cortical and sub-cortical areas involved in cognition and reward.

Alcohol and the Frontal Cortex

This project is a component of our NIAAA P50 Alcohol Center. A combination of in vivo ethanol exposure, slice electrophysiology, imaging and behavioral approaches are used to define the actions of ethanol on neurons located in the orbitofrontal cortex, basolateral amygdala and dorsal striatum.

Alcohol and the Cerebellum

These studies are focused on defining how non-motor areas of the posterior cerebellum are involved in voluntary ethanol drinking. We use chemogenetics, homecage and operant ethanol administration and FosTrap2 mice to determine the role of cerebellar circuitry in drinking.

Collaborative Neuroscience Research

We collaborate with Dr. Patrick Mulholland and Dr. Jennifer Rinker on one of eight projects organized within the Integrated Neuroscience Initiative on Alcoholism consortium (INIA-Stress). In this study, we examine the effects of stress and long-term drinking on neuronal gene and protein expression and function in mice and non-human primates.