As a trainee, you investigate molecular and biochemical characterization of genes and their gene products in relation to genetic contributions to addiction disorders. You receive significant training in molecular genetics of human disease, use of genetic animal models, genomics, and proteomics technologies.
Our faculty is currently studying the mechanisms of transcription, gene expression, chromatin structure, and protein-protein interactions that regulate gene activity in relation to drug abuse disorders. These studies focus on epigenetic mechanisms (such as DNA methylation, histone modification, RNA editing and microRNA expression) relevant to the regulation of gene transcription and other cellular functions in the development and expression of addictive states. Investigators interact with the Department of Genetics and Genomic Sciences and collaborate with clinical teams in order to investigate genetic polymorphisms in clinical drug abuse cohorts as well as populations at risk for addiction disorders.
We also look at molecular and biochemical studies of the postmortem human brain, as well as in vivo functional brain activity measures in relation to individual genotype. We are working to identify discrete neurobiological correlates in the human brain directly associated with those genetic polymorphisms that are, in turn, associated with addiction. You use mouse and other eukaryotic model systems to integrate basic genomic research with clinical and translational genetics.
Mentors: Rita Goldstein, PhD, Yasmin Hurd, PhD, Eric Nestler, MD, PhD, Scott Russo, PhD, Anne Schaefer, MD