I have two primary research interests. First, I use pharmacological approaches to seek novel therapeutics for pain. Pain is an agonizing symptom and disease that affects millions of people. Analgesics like opioids (e.g., OxyContin) are powerful for treating many pain conditions. However, opioids are not efficacious for some pain (e.g., neuropathic pain) and prolonged use of opioids has many side effects, including tolerance and dependence. The laboratory has been working on two interesting drug targets (imidazoline I2 receptors and GABAa receptors) for years in the hope that novel safer and effective analgesics can be developed from our preclinical research.
Second, I am interested in pharmacotherapy of drug abuse. We use powerful behavioral pharmacological approaches, in animal models that are predictive of human stimulant abuse conditions, to study novel drug targets and evaluate potential pharmacotherapies against addictions to opioids, psychostimulants and nicotine.
One unifying theme of the ongoing research in my laboratory is the application of receptor theory to the guidance and interpretation of the drug-receptor interactions in behaving animals.