Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology
Behavioral pharmacology; Drug abuse; Neurobiology
We have two primary research interests.
First, we utilize pharmacological approaches to seek novel therapeutics for pain. Pain is an agonizing symptom and disease that impacts millions. 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. We find that drugs acting on imidazoline I2 receptors may produce analgesic effects that are devoid of opioid-like side effects. We continue this line of research to further delineate the pharmacological properties of these drugs (how they work, how effective and safe they are, and how long the beneficial effects last) as a novel class of analgesics.
Second,we are interested in pharmacotheray of stimulant abuse. Stimulants represent a big family of abused drugs including traditional drugs of abuse (e.g., cocaine and METH) and valuable pharmacotherapies (e.g., Adderall and Ritalin). Stimulant abuse and addiction remains a challenging problem that lacks FDA-approved pharmacotherapties.We use powerful behavioral pharmacological approaches to validate novel drug targets, understand and exmaine potential novel medications for stimulant abuse.
One unifying theme of the ongoing research is the application of receptor theory to the guidance and interpretation of the drug interactions in behaving animals. The long-term goal of this laboratory is to develop new analgesics for pain control and pharmacotherapeutics for stimulant addiction.