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Pharmacology and Neuroscience

Dr. R. Lisa Popp

Associate Professor of Pharmacology
Ph. D.

Electrophysiological and biochemical assessment of neuronal N-methyl-D-aspartate receptor (NMDAR) function as modulated by ethanol.

The N-methyl-D-aspartate receptor (NMDAR) is a ligand-gated ion channel that is activated by glutamate. This receptor has been identified as a key component in those neuronal processes that lead to the development of learning and memory, as well as excitotoxicity and neuronal death. NMDAR function is inhibited by pharmacologically relevant concentrations of ethanol. In my laboratory we study the effects that an acute ethanol exposure has on neuronal NMDAR function with the whole-cell patch-clamp technique. I am especially interested in identifying intracellular factors that determine the ethanol sensitivity (the degree of inhibition by ethanol on NMDAR function) of receptors expressed in different brain regions. I am currently focusing on determining if protein kinase C (PKC), a serine/threonine kinase, is involved in altering the ethanol sensitivity of NMDARs expressed in primary cultured cerebellar granule cells. In order to accomplish this task, I use a multidisciplinary approach that combines biochemical as well as molecular biological techniques with electrophysiology. Results from these studies will help us better understand the mechanism of ethanol’s actions on NMDAR function as well as provide additional insights on NMDAR function in the absence of ethanol. Thus contributing to a better understanding of this very important receptor.

For a complete list of publications by R. Lisa Popp in PubMed, click here

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