Environmental stimuli orchestrate adaptive behaviors, cognition, and physiological functions in healthy individuals. Similarly, drug-associated environmental stimuli trigger intense drug-related memories and precipitate drug craving, impulsive decision making, and even immunosuppression in substance abusers. NIH-funded research in our laboratory has focused on demonstrating empirically the existence of some of these drug context-induced phenomena through the development and implementation of novel animal models. We now aim to elucidate the neural underpinnings of these phenomena using a multi-disciplinary approach that utilizes sophisticated animals models, in vivo optogenetic and chemogenetic circuitry manipulations, pharmacological manipulations, viral tract tracing, Western blotting, and immunohistochemistry. We are working on establishing in vivo calcium imaging and collaborating with other laboratories to conduct electrophysiological experiments. Our long-term goal is to make basic science discoveries that inform the development of treatment strategies that promote recovery from drug dependence and preempt the long-term health consequences of drug addiction.
Would you like to become a member of our research team?
Prospective graduate students and postdoctoral trainees: please contact Rita Fuchs for information about research opportunities!
Interested undergraduate researchers: All of our undergraduate research assistant slots are filled currently. Please check back with Rita Fuchs at the end of the semester to learn about new research opportunities.