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B.S, 1990 Psychology, Colorado State University
Ph.D., 1998 Biobehavioral Health, The Pennsylvania State University

On the Ph.D. program, in her words:

“When I found out that I was accepted into the BB H Graduate program I was very excited about starting a new chapter in my career as well as being part of new department in a ground-breaking field. BB H appealed to me for a few specific reasons including: the interdisciplinary nature of the education that I was going to receive, the faculty, and research training focus of the department. The training that I received as a graduate student in BB H has aided in allowing me to view research questions in a unique manner and use interdisciplinary approaches to develop studies to answers those questions effectively”

Current areas of professional interest are:

My research interests include determining what genes, neurochemicals, and neuroanatomical structures are important in the development of addiction to drugs of abuse and alcoholism. We investigate acute effects of a drug that may influence the ability and desire to seek additional drug use as well as the effects of repeated use of a drug that may result in neuroadaptive changes that alter drugs perceived characteristics and determining if these changes generalize to other drugs of abuse. We use genetic animal models in pharmacological and gene mapping studies to address these questions. Our studies have the potential for identifying both unique and common mechanisms that influence the motivational and neuroadaptive effects of addictive drugs, with the ultimate goal of identifying pharmacological interventions for the treatment and prevention of addiction

Current Position

Senior Research Associate
Department of Behavioral Neuroscience
Oregon Health and Science University

Ph.D. Thesis Title

Quantitative Trait Loci Analysis of Cocaine-Related Behaviors and Neurochemistry

Brief description: My dissertation research investigated the role of genetics on cocaine-related behaviors and neurochemistry by using quantitative genetic techniques. The cocaine-related behaviors investigated included total distance traveled, number of stereotypy, number of nose pokes and center time. The neurochemical measures included characterization of the mesolimbic and nigrostriatal dopamine system. Traditional quantitative genetic methodologies were used to identify regions of the genome that influence these phenotypes. We first identified quantitative trail loci (QTL) in a panel of recombinant inbred (RI) strains and then verified these QTL in F2 animals derived from the same parental strains of the previously tested RI panel. The phenotypes measured in these populations of mice were subjected to QTL analysis. The analysis in the RI panel revealed areas on 5 different chromosomes that contained provisional QTL. Verification of those QTL in an F2 population was performed revealing that three phenotypes, the density of the dopamine type 2 (D2) receptors in the caudate putamen in males and females was associated with regions on Chromosome 15. Further analysis for chromosome 15 from DNA from extreme individuals from the F2 population, suggested that there were actually several areas on the region of chromosome 15 that were related to the density of D2 receptors in the caudate putamen, however some of these regions were sex specific. Putative candidate genes that were associated with these QTLs included the calcium channel beta 3 subunit, dendrin, tubuline alpha 1 and the sodium voltage-gated channel type VIII alpha subunit.

Ph.D. advisor

Dr. Byron C. Jones