Research Seminar – 12/2/11

Neurobiology in Addictive Disorders

Keefer Auditorium, BU School of Medicine

A brief history of research in drug abuse

Conan Kornetsky, PhD
Conan Kornetsky, PhDDr. Kornetsky received his BA in psychology from the University of Maine in 1948 and began his research career in Drug abuse at the original Addiction Research Center in Lexington, Ky. in 1948 when he was a graduate student at the University of Kentucky. He, with Donald Gerard, published a clinical study which indicated that adolescent drug users showed evidence of social and psychological malediction prior to the start of heroin use. He subsequently spent six years in the intramural program at NIMH coming to the Department of Pharmacology and Psychiatry at Boston University in 1959 where he has continued his work on the study of the role of the brain reward system in addiction.

Role of sigma receptors in alcohol addiction

Valentina Sabino, PhD
Presentation slides (PDF)
Valentina Sabino, PhDDr. Sabino is co-director of the Laboratory of Addictive Disorders, and is currently researching the neurobiology of addiction and stress-related disorders. Studies on addiction aim to understand the neurobiological substrates of alcohol abuse and dependence by exploring the role of neurochemical systems in excessive alcohol drinking.Dr. Sabino is working toward the development of new therapeutic agents to alleviate alcohol addiction. Animal models for excessive drinking are studied in order to identify compounds for potential clinical development. Research is also conducted on the neurobiology of stress-related disorders such as anxiety and depression.

Mechanistic underpinnings of cocaine addiction and development of molecular neurotherapeutics

Vidhya Kumaresan, PhD
Presentation slides (PDF)
Vidhya Kumaresan, PhDDr. Kumaresan’s overall research objective is to study neuronal activity-dependent plasticity and its relevance for brain disorders. The current focus of Dr. Kumaresan’s research is to understand the neurobiological bases of addiction to psychostimulants. Recidivism to drug abuse is a major hurdle in the successful treatment of addiction. Dr. Kumaresan employs a novel approach of using cell-permeable peptides that disrupt protein-protein interactions in vivo in order to study ongoing behavior. These approaches are expected to lead to successful treatment of relapse precipitated by drug re-exposure, drug-associated cues and stress. Knowledge gained from these studies will also be applicable to the treatment of other brain dysfunctions involving persistent memories such as PTSD.

The dark and the light sides of compulsive eating

Pietro Cottone, PhD
Presentation Slides (PDF)
Pietro Cottone, PhDDr. Cottone is co-director of the Laboratory of Addictive Disorders. Dr. Cottone’s research interests focus on the neurobiological substrates of motivated behaviors including feeding and addiction. The major goal of Dr. Cottone’s research is identifying the biological bases of and potential treatments for eating disorders and obesity. Current studies concern the role of stress in compulsive eating and palatable food dependence. Areas of focused research include the investigation of the neurobiological bases of stress-related disorders such as anxiety and depression. Dr. Cottone’s studies are carried out on environmental and genetic animal models, using behavioral, biochemical, and molecular approaches.