I use carefully designed rat and mouse behavioral models to investigate disorders of the nervous system, particularly stress and substance use disorders. To explore the neural underpinnings of these disorders, I utilize a deep toolkit of behavioral neuroscience and molecular biology techniques, including fiber-photometry, optogenetics, designer receptors exclusively activated by designer drugs (DREADDs), ribosome affinity purification (RiboTag), and RNA-Seq.
I have recently received a K99/R00 Pathway to Independence Award, as well as a P30 Pilot Award through the University of Washington NAPE Center. My work on the K99 and P30 will integrate in-vivo optical neuroscience techniques (photometry, optogenetics, endoscopy) with a rat model of oral fentanyl self-administration. We plan to record and manipulate Lateral Habenula projections to monoaminergic midbrain nuclei, with the goal of reducing the negative emotional impact of opioid withdrawal and reducing the propensity to relapse.
- Determining if activity in LHb projections to the RMTg promotes cued reinstatement to fentanyl seeking through indirect inhibition of VTA dopamine neurons
- Determining if activity in specific lateral habenula output pathways motivates avoidance of synthetic opioid withdrawal or cue induced reinstatement