Assistant Professor of Psychology
Department of Psychology
also Primary Investigator in the Stark Neurosciences Research Institute, IUSM
Novel pharmacological targets to treat stress-potentiated alcohol misuse
My research investigates how stress differentially impacts the brains of male and female rats, and how that results in development of maladaptive behaviors characteristic of symptoms of various mental illness. In particular, I focus on stress effects on alcohol misuse and have so far identified two different drug targets in the brain that are able to reduce drinking after stress - one that is more able to do so in females (glucocorticoid receptor - blocked by the drug mifepristone) and another that works equally well (phosphodiesterase 10A - blocked by the drug MP-10). The purpose of my studies in pre-clinical rodent models is to identify such molecular differences and determine how they impact behavior. Mifepristone has already been translated into a clincial study where it reduced drinking in individuals in recovery from alcohol use disorder, and a drug targeting multiple phosphodiesterases, including 10A, is currently in clinical trials. Thus my evidence-based research focuses on identifying stress effects on the brain and confirming behavioral efficacy of pharmacologically blocking such changes, with the end goal of translating these findings into clinical studies to develop novel treatments for comorbid stress-related and alcohol use disorders.