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and the consequences of drug abuse on the regulation of neurotransmission under drug-free, drug-exposed, and drug-withdrawn conditions.
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.
Staff Research Interests:
Nancy Pilotte, Ph.D. - Chief
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
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.
Roger Sorensen, Ph.D., M.P.A. - Health Scientist Administrator
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.