- Liberal Arts
I am interested in using animal models to study behavioral, pharmacological, and neurological aspects of drug addiction. Opiates are widely used both as prescription painkillers and illegally for recreational purposes, but only a minority of individuals who use opiates become addicted. Therefore, understanding the behavioral and neurobiological mechanisms underlying the relationship between these traits and addiction vulnerability is essential for developing more effective preventions and treatments. I aim to identify the factors such as mood or traits that contribute to addiction behaviors in rodent models, as well as factors that may buffer individuals from being addicted to opiates given the initial exposure, and the underlying neurological mechanisms. More specifically, withdrawal-induced deficits in reward function as assessed by elevations in intracranial self-stimulation (ICSS) thresholds is associated with various stages of opiate addiction, including acquisition of addiction, escalation, extinction and reinstatement. In addition, we aim to explore more on the sex differences in these factors between male and female rats. I also seek to identify individual differences in gene expression associated with the severity of early dependence and morphine self-administration using RNA-seq and ChiP-seq.