DRUGS OF ABUSE

Collections of various drugs on table

The Department of Pharmacology and its integration of pharmacologists, classical geneticists, molecular biologists, electrophysiologists, and neurochemists is entering a new era with the hope that the most exciting times are yet to come and that the molecular and genetic mechanisms of alcohol intoxication, tolerance, and dependence will be revealed in much greater detail in the future.

Understanding genetic differences in alcohol action also requires information about the neuropharmacology of the drug. Only recently have we begun to understand which synaptic signaling systems are affected by alcohol. Faculty within the Department of Pharmacology are leaders in this area showing actions of ethanol on the excitatory glutamate receptors (NMDA, AMPA, and kainate subtypes) and the inhibitory GABA and glycine receptors.

 

Associated Faculty 

Aoto, Jason
Assistant Professor
PhD, 2009, Univ. of California, Berkley
We are interested in dissecting the distinct functions of synaptic cell-adhesion molecules implicated in neuropsychiatric disorders and addiction in the context of disease-relevant brain circuits. Using cutting-edge multidisciplinary techniques, we are able to interrogate these molecules with cell-type and synapse-specific resolution.

Ford, Christopher
Associate Professor
PhD, 2003, Univ. of Alberta
We study the synaptic mechanisms by which neuromodulators like dopamine and acetylcholine are encoded in mesolimbic and nigrostriatal circuits through their G-protein coupled receptors and the alterations that occur in these systems in neurological and psychiatric diseases. 

Hoffman, Paula L.
Professor
PhD, 1974, City Univ. of New York
Neuropharmacology; mechanisms of alcohol tolerance, dependence, and craving; genetic aspects of alcohol dependence and affective disorders; biochemical/molecular biological/genetic analysis of CNS receptors and signal transduction systems.

Sikela, James M.
Professor
PhD, 1983, Case Western Reserve Univ.
Neurogenomics; disease gene discovery; human genome evolution and variation.