The laboratory’s goal is to identify, scrutinize, and validate novel druggable targets for the treatment of alcohol use disorders (AUDs), mood disorders, and other diseases. While the advent of optogenetics and sophisticated gene editing technology provides exciting opportunities for the development of next-generation psychiatric treatments, pharmacological approaches retain theoretical and practical advantages for the rapid delivery of new therapies. Our laboratory therefore aims to leverage contemporary neuroscience techniques to investigate how G protein-coupled receptors (GPCRs) regulate discrete prefrontal cortex circuits.
Researchers in our laboratory ask: (1) How do GPCRs regulate neuronal activity, synaptic plasticity, and animal behavior? (2) How do disease-relevant experiences usurp, impair, or modify synaptic plasticity mechanisms? (3) How can we leverage this information to identify new psychiatric treatments? Our research approaches these questions from several angles. Graduate students in the laboratory will have opportunities to train extensively in whole-cell patch-clamp electrophysiology, optogenetics-assisted circuit mapping, in vivo biosensor-based imaging, and rodent behavioral techniques.
Maksymetz J, Byun NE, Luessen DJ, Li B, Barry R, Gore JC, Niswender CM, Lindsley CW, Joffe ME, Conn PJ. mGlu1 potentiation enhances cortical somatostatin interneuron activity to rescue schizophrenia-like physiological and cognitive deficits. Cell Reports. In press.