Pharmacology and Neuroscience
Professor of Pharmacology
Ph.D., 1976, University of Minnesota
Our research focuses on behavioral pharmacology of opioids. My research group has formulated a productive model of processes that modulate tolerance to discriminative, or subjective, effects of opioids. Our work addresses pharmacological and psychological systems that underlie development and expression of tolerance to opioids, with particular attention to factors that modulate development of tolerance to effects on behavior and cognition. Our initial work highlighted the role of learning processes in shaping the development of tolerance. More recently, we have focused on understanding how behavioral effects of opioids vary with relative intrinsic efficacy. This work has revealed that behavioral effects involved in opioid abuse occur with only limited occupancy of brain opioid receptors. The extremely efficient processing of effects linked to abuse may underlie the surprising lack of tolerance to such effects.
Our current work focuses on the role of opioid receptor activity in the development of opioid dependence. With support from NIH, we are examining the possibility that inverse agonist activity at opioid receptor subtypes may play an important role in the subjective and aversive effects of opioid dependence and withdrawal.
These research projects provide a strong basis for scientific training. Three graduate students in my laboratory have been awarded NIH predoctoral fellowships, and a recent postdoctoral trainee wrote two independent, and now funded, NIH awards while in my group. In addition to my research program, I teach in the Department of Psychology at TTU. I also serve as an Associate Editor for The Journal of Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics, with primary responsibilities in the area of behavioral pharmacology. During 2005-2007, I will serve as the President of the Division of Behavioral Pharmacology of ASPET.
For further information contact Alice Young, Ph.D.