Cellular Neurobiology Research Branch - The Intramural Research Program of the National Institute on Drug Abuse

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Branch Overview

Branch Chief: Geoffrey Schoenbaum, M.D., Ph.D. on-site page link

The Cellular Neurobiology Branch studies central nervous system (CNS) function at the cellular level, including physiological properties of cells, biochemical mechanisms and pathways, effects of neurotrophic factors, neuroanatomical methods, electrophysiology, animal models of drug effects and neurodegeneration, and drug effects on human cells.

The Schoenbaum Lab - click for larger version

Behavioral Neurophysiology Neuroscience Section - click for larger version

Section Lab Page

Behavioral Neurophysiology Neuroscience Section

Section Chief: Geoffrey Schoenbaum, M.D., Ph.D. on-site page link
  • The Schoenbaum Lab uses established and boutique behavioral approaches combined with techniques ranging from single-unit recording to fast scan cyclic voltametry to neurotoxic lesions to optogenetics.
  • Experiments are designed to test hypotheses regarding the neural instantiation of empirically-derived mechanisms known to govern associative learning and decision making, in both normal and drug-experienced animals.
  • Our hypotheses are lifted from the rich traditions of animal learning theory, computational neuroscience, and economics.

Synaptic Plasticity Section

Section Chief: Antonello Bonci, M.D. on-site page link
  • Investigate drug-induced neuroadaptations in excitatory transmission within key reward circuits.
  • Investigate cellular mechanisms underlying drug-induced changes in neuronal intrinsic properties in key reward circuits.
  • Using optogenetic technology to identify the role of specific circuits in reward-learning behaviors.

Neurons - click for larger version

More neurons

More Neurons - click for larger version

Development and Plasticity Section

Section Chief: William J. Freed, Ph.D. on-site page link
  • Immortalization of cells derived from rodent embryonic tissue and from human embryonic stem cells: Development of immortalization strategies and creation of immortalized cell lines
  • Characterization and determination of mechanisms involved in dopaminergic differentiation of human embryonic stem cells
  • Studies of the cellular and molecular mechanisms which are responsible for impairment of neocortical development by cocaine
  • Studies of drug abuse using human postmortem tissue

Electrophysiology Research Section - click for larger version

Electrophysiology Research Section - click for larger version

Electrophysiology Research Section

Section Chief: Carl R. Lupica, Ph.D. on-site page link

Mechanisms of action of abused drugs on synaptic neuronal circuitry:

  • Cannabinoid effects in hippocampus, ventral tegmental area and nucleus accumbens
  • Effects of cannabinoids and cocaine on synaptic plasticity in brain reward circuits

Physiological characterization of Parkinson’s disease in transgenic models:

  • Respiratory chain dysfunction in dopamine neuron mitochondria
  • Dopamine neuron degeneration and early physiological events

Laboratory approaches:

  • Brain slices
  • Patch clamp electrophysiology
  • Confocal microscopy
  • Ultraviolet laser photolysis of caged molecules
  • Electrochemistry of dopamine in brain slices
  • Transgenic models

Neuronal Networks Section - click for larger versionNeuronal Networks Section - click for larger version

Neuronal Networks Section

Section Chief: Marisela Morales, Ph.D. on-site page link

Investigation of molecules, cells and neuronal pathways central to the neurobiology of addiction. Application of anatomical, molecular, cell biological and electrophysiological approaches to investigate:

  • Interactions between the stress and reward systems
  • Cellular composition and neuronal connectivity of the ventral tegmental area

Related Information...

IRP Training Opportunities...

2009 Postbacs
Postdoc, Predoc, Postbac and Summer Student training opportunities available!

2009 Summer Students
Research & Training Program for Under-represented Populations

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The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), is part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the principal biomedical and behavioral research agency of the United States Government. NIH is a component of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

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