by Stephen Vodhanel, PhD
Wei-Xing Shi, Ph.D., has been awarded $408,000 from the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) to study the affects of midbrain dopamine neurons in a research project titled “Prefrontal Control of Dopamine Neurons.” The National Institute of Health has many institutes specialized in different areas and NIDA is one specialty. NIDA's mission is to bring the power of science to bear on drug abuse and addiction.
“The prefrontal cortex is a brain area critically involved in the executive function of the brain including decision making and impulse control. Midbrain dopamine neurons are a key component of the brain reward system and play a crucial role in emotional and motivational behavior. This project will use optogenetics to optically and selectively excite or inhibit subgroups of neurons in the prefrontal cortex and then to determine how dopamine neurons respond to these different manipulations in the prefrontal cortex,” said Dr. Shi.
“With the use of the new optogenetics techniques, Dr. Shi’s research project hopes to address a number of questions that cannot be addressed using previous techniques. The results of the research project is hoped to provide new insights into disorders that involve both the prefrontal cortex and dopamine neurons, including schizophrenia, drug addiction, and ADHD,” said Dr. Shi.
The entire School of Pharmacy congratulates Dr. Shi on this National Institute on Drug Abuse grant.