Molecular Neurobiology/Neurotoxicity due to injury, drugs and disease
Research in our division focuses on:
1) damage to the brain caused by injury, drugs and disease (e.g., Parkinson’s disease) and
2) studies on the role of the neurotransmitter serotonin in neuropsychiatric disorders.
We employ a unique model of repetitive mild traumatic brain injury to study long term neuronal and glial responses to insult and we study the neurotoxic effects of methamphetamine and other designer drugs on dopamine and serotonin nerve endings. We have developed a knockout mouse lacking the gene for tryptophan hydroxylase 2 (TPH2), the enzyme responsible for the synthesis of serotonin in brain, to facilitate studies of the role of serotonin in neurodevelopmental disorders such as autism. The TPH2 knockout mouse has also opened numerous avenues of translational study into behavioral disinhibition to include OCD, impulsivity and aggression.