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Elucidating Mechanisms of Addiction

Goals: Our primary goals are to: 1) shed new light on the neural mechanisms that drive the positive reinforcing effects of alcohol and other drugs of abuse; and 2) investigate the impact of alcohol use on neurodegenerative disorders including Alzheimer’s disease.

Strategy: Our preclinical studies take a “discovery-to-mechanistic” approach: 1) we seek to discover novel neural targets of alcohol use (changes in gene and protein expression); and 2) experimentally manipulate key targets using pharmacological or genetic strategies to determine if specific targets mechanistically regulate excessive alcohol self-administration and related behavioral pathologies.

Significance: Understanding the neural mechanisms of drug-induced maladaptive plasticity in brain and behavioral functions is important for development of new pharmacotherapeutic strategies for treating problems associated with alcohol and drug abuse, and neurodegenerative disorders.

The Hodge Lab is located in the Bowles Center for Alcohol Studies at the University of North Carolina School of Medicine.