Summary of Research
Our research program is guided by two overarching questions:
- How does chronic stress impact neural substrates involved in shaping neuropsychiatric disorders (e.g.: anxiety, depression, PTSD, addiction, etc.)?
- What are the neural substrates responsible for the comorbidity between affective disorders (e.g.: PTSD, anxiety, depression, etc.) and alcohol and substance use disorders?
Exposure to chronic stress, especially during adolescence, often results in increased anxiety and depression, and is associated with augmented risk of developing drug and alcohol addiction in adulthood. For example, patients diagnosed with anxiety or mood disorders are approximately twice as likely to develop alcohol and substance use disorders. Moreover, individuals exposed to adverse events in childhood have a fourfold prevalence of developing these disorders in adulthood. Little is known about how exposure to early childhood and adolescent stress causes changes in the brain to make these individuals more susceptible to developing alcohol and substance use disorders. It is therefore crucial to understand the neural substrates and mechanisms affected by stress, which then may lead to comorbid affective and addictive disorders.
Overall, our research seeks to elucidate and modulate the precise circuits in the brain that underlie both affective and addictive disorders to develop more effective treatments, particularly for individuals that suffer from the co-occurrence of both diseases. The goal of our research program is to help develop evidence-based therapeutic interventions for addictive behaviors.
Ex vivo and in vivo voltammetry; Microdialysis; Optogenetics; Chemogenetics; Drug self-administration
Mentoring and teaching philosophy
Being a mentor is one of the most rewarding aspects of being a scientist. I have been fortunate to have many years of mentoring students. As a graduate student at Rutgers and postdoctoral fellow at Wake Forest School of Medicine, I was a mentor to many undergraduate and graduate students throughout their tenure in the laboratory. My responsibilities included training them in techniques as well as how to design experiments, analyze data, and write scientific manuscripts. I mentored these students through the process of acquiring predoctoral funding in the form of a National Research Service Award (NRSA). Discussing ideas, data, and possible explanations is vital to inquiry-based learning and it reflects both the way scientists work and my teaching philosophy. I will continue to educate and mentor students and postdoctoral researchers in my own laboratory. I wholeheartedly view teaching as a privilege, and I am delighted to have the opportunity to teach and mentor students at Binghamton University. Raising new scientists leaves a mark on the scientific community that is larger than any individual scientific discovery. I look forward to teaching the next generation of scientists how to critically analyze data and question their surroundings, as this is the foundation that moves science forward.
- Post-Doctoral Fellowship, Wake Forest School of medicine
- PhD in Neuroscience, Rutgers University
- BA in Psychology, Rutgers University
- Adolescent stress and drug exposure
- Drug abuse vulnerability
- Kappa opioid receptors
- Dopamine, norepinephrine, serotonin
- Alcohol use disorder
- Cocaine addiction
- Opiate abuse
- 2018 – Association of Alcohol Researchers of Indian Origin (AARIO) Young Investigator Award, Research Society on Alcoholism 41st Annual Meeting, San Diego, CA.
- 2018 – International Brain Research Organization (IBRO) Young Investigator Award, Monitoring Molecules in Neuroscience, Oxford, UK.
- 2016 – Drug and Alcohol Dependence Top Reviewer Award.
- 2015 – Toni Shippenberg Young Investigator Award, Kappa Therapeutics Conference 3rd Annual Meeting, Chapel Hill, NC.