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Functional Neuroscience Research Branch (FNRB)

What We Do:

The FNRB (FNRB) supports research to understand the mechanisms of action and the consequences of drug abuse on the regulation of neurotransmission under drug-free, drug-exposed, and drug-withdrawn conditions.

Program Areas:

The grant portfolios maintained within this branch address several basic science issues:

  • Neuropharmacology of all abused substances except alcohol as it applies to cellular and neuronal systems. Development of an understanding of the effects of abused substances and treatment drugs on basic neurobiology and their functional consequences using a variety of approaches, including electrophysiology, in situ monitoring of neurochemicals, and behavior.
  • Regulation of excitatory and inhibitory neurotransmission, at the protein and circuit levels, including the processes of signal transduction, the coupling of receptors to second messenger systems, receptor internalization and its consequences, trafficking of regulatory elements within the neuron and neuroplasticity induced by abused substances or their withdrawal.
  • Neuronal-glial interactions in CNS and their modification by abused substances.
  • The study of persistent neuroadaptations that occur as a consequence of drug exposure, including structural and functional changes in the brain associated with long-term drug use and drug withdrawal, neurotoxicity, neuroprotection, tolerance and sensitization, and comorbidity with other disease states. This also includes studies of neural progenitor and stem cells in adult brains.
  • Neuroendocrine modulation of neural systems and their functions, including the study of neurosteroids, neuroactive steroids, gender-related brain function, non-opioid peptides, and hormones of the stress axis as they affect neurotransmission.
  • NeuroAIDS and neuroinflammation as it is related to drug abuse.

Funding Announcements:

Staff Research Interests:

  • Nancy Pilotte, Ph.D. - Chief
    (301) 435-1317
    Dr. Pilotte's areas of interest include short- and long-term circuit-level adaptations in the brain that occur as a result of chronic and repeated exposure to abused drugs or their withdrawal,    and their modulation by steroids and peptides.  She is also interested in the analysis of the functional roles of heterodimers in the CNS and in the development of research tools to study the central nervous system.
  • Jerry Frankenheim, Ph.D. - Health Scientist Administrator
    (301) 435-1312
    Dr. Frankenheim's programmatic interests center on the drug-induced neurotoxicity,  neural resilience and repair in the drug-compromised brain, and the neuropharmacology and toxicology of methamphetamine, MDMA, GHB, ketamine, hallucinogens and inhalants.  Other areas of interest are the relationship between phencyclidine (PCP), ketamine, and other glutamate antagonists and synaptic plasticity, and  models of psychosis and their comorbidity with drug abuse and the resulting psychological dysfunctions.
  • Geraline Lin, Ph.D. - Health Scientist Administrator
    (301) 435-1305
    Grants fostered by Dr. Lin center on opiate and cannabinoid systems. At the circuit level, this includes studies on the mechanisms of action of these drugs and the neuroadaptations they produce that underlie tolerance, dependence, sensitization, and desensitization. At the cellular level, these mechanisms include signal transduction, receptor trafficking, internalization, recycling, degradation and others. She also maintains an interest in the pharmacology, mechanisms and neural substrates underlying reward and feeding, neuroplasticity, and drug-induced changes in stem cell behavior (cell differentiation, proliferation, migration) and neurogenesis and the functional consequences of such adaptations.
  • Roger Sorensen, Ph.D., M.P.A. - Health Scientist Administrator
    (301) 443-3205
    Dr. Sorensen's programmatic interests broadly concern the biological mechanisms underlying functional changes in neuronal excitability and output, synaptic plasticity and homeostasis, and communication within neural circuits and networks as a consequence of substance abuse and addiction. This includes mechanistic studies of plasticity at excitatory and inhibitory synapses produced by drugs of abuse, and the effects of psychoactive drugs on the interactions between neurons and glial cells.

This page was last updated April 2012

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