Genetics and Molecular Neurobiology Research Branch (GMNRB)

What We Do:

The GMNRB supports research on the genetic basis of addiction vulnerability, the fundamental cellular mechanisms that underlie addiction and the response to drugs of abuse, and basic neurobiology.

Program Areas:

  • Development of neural pathways and brain structures that mediate drug abuse and addiction. This includes research on stem cell and progenitor cell induction, pattern formation, proliferation, and phenotypic restriction, specification of neuronal and glial cell fate, programmed cell death, guidance of glial and neuronal migration, and regulation of dendritic and axonal outgrowth, navigation, target selection, and synapse formation.
  • The role that transcription factors, scaffolding proteins, adhesion molecules, signaling molecules, cytoskeletal proteins, and other molecules play in mediating memory and learning and the neural adaptation to drugs of abuse.
  • Cell biology studies of addiction, including research on membrane and protein trafficking, signal transduction pathways, cytoskeletal rearrangements, protein-protein interactions, protein complex formation, synaptic vesicle formation, and ion movements.
  • Genetic studies of vulnerability to addiction, including animal and human molecular genetics studies, QTL-based research, and pharmacogenetics.
  • Molecular genetics and genomics studies related to underlying biology of the response to drugs of abuse, including model organism genomics, functional genomics, proteomics, gene expression studies, and mutagenesis studies.

Funding Announcements:

Staff Research Interests:

  • Jonathan Pollock, Ph.D. - Branch Chief
    (301) 435-1309

    Dr. Pollock manages and oversees all activities of the GMNRB. Dr. Pollock continues to advocate for genetics, proteomics and developmental biology research at NIDA and has promoted collaboration between NIDA and the Office of National Drug Control Policy. Dr. Pollock has been actively involved in trans NIH initiatives such as the Brain Molecular Anatomy Project (B-MAP) and GenSAT. He has also taken a leadership role at the NIH in promoting the sharing of mouse resources generated with NIH funds.

    Activities: NIH Mammalian Gene Collection Committee; Trans-NIH mouse and genomics resource committee; NIDA Genetics Workgroup, chair; NIDA Neuroscience Consortium; NIDA Genetics Consortium, chair; Center for Inherited Disease Research (CIDR), board member.
  • Elena Koustova, Ph.D., M.B.A. - Health Scientist Administrator
    (301) 443-1887
  • John Satterlee, Ph.D. - Health Scientist Administrator
    (301) 435-1020

    Dr. Satterlee oversees grants and activities focused on the genetics of drug abuse. One area of interest is the utilization of molecular and genetic resources in model organisms such as C. elegans, Drosophila, zebrafish, mouse, and others to answer fundamental questions in drug abuse biology and behavioral plasticity. Another area of interest is the role of signal transduction cascades in the regulation of neuronal gene expression and function. Of particular interest is the role of G-protein signaling in these processes.

    A third area of interest is in the development of robust genetic tools to treat drug addiction. RNA interference and gene therapy strategies have potential value in drug addiction pharmacotherapy. Pharmaceutical development for any specific disease is a major undertaking since it is expensive and time consuming to develop a new small molecule to inhibit each distinct disease gene. Genetic technologies may yield a rapid and generally applicable method to downregulate any specific gene, allele, or splice form involved in a particular human disease such as drug addiction.

    Activities: NIDA Genetics Workgroup, NIDA Neuroscience Consortium, NIH Knockout Mouse Project, Trans-NIH Zebrafish Committee, Trans-NIH Genomic Resources Committee.
  • Da-Yu Wu, Ph.D. - Health Scientist Administrator
    (301) 435-4649

    Dr. Wu's programmatic interest is developmental neurobiology. He oversees efforts on the research in the development and plasticity of the reward and motivation pathways with particular emphasis on prenatal and adolescent period of exposure to drugs of abuse, focusing on synapse growth and modulation, axonal pathfinding and neural circuitry establishment. He also has strong interests in neuronal/glial cell fate, differentiation and stem cell biology. His portfolio in addition includes areas of cell and molecular imaging, animal modeling of drug abuse, and RNA regulation during neural development.

    Activities: Member of the Trans-NIH Stem Cell Committee, NIDA AIDS Workgroup, and NIDA Genetics Workgroup.

Links of Interest:

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