Heather Boger, Ph.D.

Dr. Boger is an Associate Professor in the Department of Neuroscience at MUSC. For more than 18 years, Dr. Boger's research has focused on identifying mechanisms of action for the accelerated decline observed in patient populations as well as animal models of neurodegeneration, and determining what measures constitute the best way to correlate behavioral performance with changes in brain structure and function.Her research has recently been focused on exploring potential therapeutics that can be translated for the use in the clinical setting, such as the use of vagus nerve stimulation for Parkinson's disease. The findings from her initial studies have led to a clinical pilot study at MUSC in the Movement Disorders clinic in collaboration with Dr. Mark George of the MUSC Neuromodulation Center.

For more information, please visit
Dr. Boger's website

Jane Joseph, Ph.D.

The Brain, Cognition and Development lab (Jane Joseph, Ph.D., Principal Investigator) uses neuroimaging techniques to study cognitive and affective behaviors in Psychiatric and Neurological disorders. Currently funded projects include functional connectome analysis to characterize risk for Alzheimer's Disease. Collaborative projects focus on the role of trauma in shaping functional brain networks throughout the lifespan - from development to midlife - and in the context of substance use disorders. These collaborations also explore medication treatments for PTSD and substance use.

Jacqueline McGinty Ph.D.

COCA is a recently funded Center for the study of substance use disorders that includes three basic science (Kalivas, Cowan, McGinty) and one clinical science (Froeliger) laboratories that work together to develop treatment targets for addiction. In my project, we are investigating the dysregulation of a subset of neurons in the prefrontal cortex implicated in relapse to drug-seeking after either cocaine or heroin self-administration. We have found common neuroadaptations in plasticity-related proteins in the prefrontal cortex of rats after abstinence from both heroin and cocaine self-administration that include changes in dendritic spine morphology, increased AMPA glutamate receptor expression in large dendritic spines, and enhanced nuclear phospho-CREB expression selectively in pyramidal neurons projecting from the prefrontal cortex to nucleus accumbens core (PL-NA core) after one week of abstinence. In addition, we have discovered that there is an increase in perisynaptic astroglial processes in prelimbic cortex during abstinence from cocaine and heroin self-administration. In the current project, we are investigating whether changes in dendritic spine morphology, AMPA receptor localization, and CREB phosphorylation in a subset of PL-NA core neurons, and remodeling of perisynaptic astroglial processes around PL-NA core dendritic spines contribute to relapse to cocaine- and heroin-seeking and whether these neuroadaptations can be prevented by systemic injection of the anti-oxidant and glutamate transport-1 regulator, N-acetyl-cysteine, during abstinence. Viral vector technology and dopamine receptor Drd1-cre and Drd2-cre transgenic rats will be used to resolve the subset of PL-NA neurons that are activated during abstinence from cocaine and heroin self-administration.

For more information, please visit Dr. McGinty's website.

Jennifer Rinker, Ph.D.

Students interested in addiction neuroscience, stress neurobiology and the intersection of the two should contact Dr Rinker for available current projects in her lab.

Kumar Sambamurti, Ph.D.

Visit the MUSC directory information about Dr. Sambamurti
For more information about Dr. Sambamurti's lab, please visit his website
For a news story in the MUSC Catalyst please visit this link

Makoto Taniguchi, Ph.D.

My lab is newly opened laboratory to pursue the transcriptional and epigenetic mechanisms of psychiatric illnesses including stress-related behavioral changes and drug addiction using rodent models.