Alcohol and Drug Dependence research


The Central Nervous System (CNS) is a highly complex dynamical system with great adaptive potential that arises from a vast network of molecular interactions and transporting processes. The dynamical organization of the CNS is essential for enabling living organisms to swiftly and steadily respond to unpredictable changes in their surroundings. Under the influence of substances of abuse (such as alcohol, tobacco, drugs) adaptive transformations take place that alter the workings of the CNS by changing the dynamics of molecular interactions in individual cells as well as interactions between cells forming the network.  At the organism level, these changes manifest themselves as psychological and behavioral alterations, most notably craving, drug-seeking and compulsive use.

Our research on opioid receptor-mediated mechanisms underlying the development of alcohol dependence and addiction aims at understanding basic cellular and molecular mechanisms implicated in the development of alcohol dependence, identification of new biomarkers and the development of individualized pharmacotherapy for the treatment of alcohol abuse. We are using molecular genetics and high-resolution fluorescence imaging and correlation spectroscopy to characterize the cellular dynamics of proteins and perform quantitative biochemical studies of protein interactions in live cells. We are at the forefront of application of quantitative methods with single-cell and single-molecule sensitivity in biomedical research, and work on further advancement of the techniques.

A well-characterized database with samples from alcoholics including sib-pairs is being investigated in our group.

We are also interested and study in collaborative projects the dynamic regulation of gene transcription activation and cellular and molecular mechanisms of neurodegeneration.