Caroline E. Bass PhD

Caroline Bass

Caroline E. Bass

Assistant Professor

Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology

Jacobs School of Medicine & Biomedical Sciences

Specialty/Research Focus

Circadian Rhythm/Chronobiology; Drug abuse; Gene Expression; Molecular and Cellular Biology; Neuropharmacology

Contact Information
Biomedical Research Building 515
Buffalo, NY 14214
Phone: 716-829-3790

Professional Summary:

My laboratory seeks to understand the neurobiology of motivation and how these systems can be "highjacked" by abused substances. Substance abuse and addiction are wide-spread problems that have an enormous economic and emotional toll. Reports indicate that it costs the US upwards to $600 billion a year to deal with the health and criminal consequences and loss of productivity from substance abuse. Despite this, there are few effective treatments to combat this illness.

The brain has natural systems responsible for motivating an organism to participate in behaviors that are necessary for survival, such as eating, exercise and reproduction. These same brain regions are highly sensitive to drugs of abuse, including cocaine, heroin and marijuana. My laboratory seeks to understand how these brain regions are affected by exposure to abused drugs, and in particular how the motivation to take drugs is altered by various molecular mediators in the neurons on these regions. The two basic questions we are interested in are 1) how projections from the cortex to the striatum influence drug seeking behaviors, and 2) how neurotransmitter receptors, particularly dopamine and cannbinoid receptors in these regions influence drug seeking.

Our technical approaches include a number of basic behavioral models including measurements of locomotor activity, catalepsy, conditioned place preference and drug self-administration. In order to probe the circuitry of these brain regions, we use a number of advanced molecular techniques to activate and inactivate neuronal populations including optogenetics and artificial receptors. We probe the molecular pathways within the neurons by over expressing genes or knocking down expression using RNA interference. Gene delivery is accomplished using recombinant adeno-associated virus (rAAV) and several projects in the laboratory focus on improving this approach and exploring potential gene therapy applications for these vectors. The ultimate goal is to understand the basic neurobiology and molecular biology of addiction in order to develop more effective treatments for addiction.

Education and Training:

  • PhD, Pharmacology and Toxicology, Medical College of Virginia, Virginia Commonwealth University (2007)
  • BS, Biology, Virginia Commonwealth University, Magna Cum Laude (1995)


  • Assistant Professor, Pharmacology and Toxicology, University at Buffalo (2011-present)
  • non-tenure track, Physiology and Pharmacology, Wake Forest University School of Medicine (2007–2011)
  • Post Doctoral Fellow, Experimental Medicine, Beth Israel Deaconness Medical Center, Harvard School of Medicine (2002–2007)
  • Graduate Student, Pharmacology and Toxicology, Medical College of Virginia, Virginia Commonwealth University (1995–2007)

Research Expertise:

  • behavioral neuropharmacology: experience with a number of behavioral assays in mice, rats and primates. Emphasis on models of reinforcement, including drug self-administration, as well as locomotor, anxiety and antinociception.
  • viral vector development: design, construct and package adeno-associated virus for specific delivery to targeted organs and cell subtypes, particularly within the CNS.

Journal Articles:

See all (22 more)

Professional Memberships:

  • Society for Neuroscience (2007–present)

Service Activities:

  • Pharmacology and Toxicology Graduate Admissions Subcommittee; The mission of this committee is to recruit, evaluate, and select the most talented students to enter the Pharmacology and Toxicology graduate programs.; Committee Member (2011–present)
  • Pharmacology and Toxicology Awards Committee; The mission of this committee is to promote scholarship and excellence among faculty and students by publicizing and encouraging participation in award competitions.; Committee Member (2011–present)

School News:

In the Media:

Clinical Specialties:

Clinical Offices:

Insurance Accepted:

Contact Information

Biomedical Research Building 515
Buffalo, NY 14214
Phone: 716-829-3790