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A Closer Look at
Dave Werner's Research

DEARC Call for Pilot Proposals
Letter of Intent due: January 15
Proposals due: February 15
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Research for Society on Alcoholism
38th Annual Meeting
June 20-24, 2015
San Antonio, Texas
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Research Highlights

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microscope comparison

microscope comparison

microscope comparison

microscope comparison

Main Projects

Pilot Projects

Pilot Project 1: Maternal Care Influence in Offspring Ethanol Sensitivity

This study aims to investigate maternal care programming of alcohol use in the rat. Specifically, we will study the effects of natural variations in maternal care on sedative/hypnotic effects of alcohol at different doses at postnatal days 30, 50 and 90 in male and female offspring. We will also investigate changes in the γ-aminobutyric acid (GABA) subunit expression in brain regions associated with alcohol sensitivity, such as hippocampus, medial prefrontal cortex and nucleus accubens. Lastly we will use next-generation sequencing to compare the effects of maternal care received on DNA methylation of the promoter region of the GABAA receptor subunits shown to be associated with the variation of sensitivity in our model. This pilot is expected to clarify the role of early life on alcohol sensitivity. It will also improve our understanding of epigenetic programming of the GABAergic system.

Pilot Project 2: Ethanol withdrawal-induced alterations in coping strategy across ontogeny

Early developmental exposure to alcohol is a risk factor that has been shown to be important to the etiology of alcoholism. Identification of contributors to excessive alcohol use during adolescence is therefore of critical importance, with previous work using rodent models having demonstrated that an adolescent-associated insensitivity to ethanol may be a permissive factor that permits adolescents to consume excessive quantities of alcohol. The hypothesis of my pilot proposal is that withdrawal from ethanol will result in a disruption of coping behavior among adult rats, and that these ethanol withdrawal-related alterations will be attenuated during adolescence, thus also contributing to alcohol abuse during adolescence. To test this hypothesis, behavioral assays (e.g., forced-swim and defensive probe-burying) will be used to characterize ontogenetic alterations in coping behavior during ethanol withdrawal following either acute or chronic exposure. Additionally, patterns of neural activation in response to these stressors, ethanol, or stress plus ethanol exposure will be examined across development. Findings from these studies will provide important information for more targeted studies using regional inactivation, as well as site-specific microinjections, to identify neural regions critical for age-related alterations in ethanol withdrawal and coping behavior.

Last Updated: 11/3/11