Muscarinic receptors in alcohol-seeking

Research Opportunity
PhD students, Honours students, Master of Biomedical Science
Number of Honour Places Available
Number of Master Places Available
Primary Supervisor Email Number Webpage
Dr Leigh Walker
Co-supervisor Email Number Webpage
Prof Andrew Lawrence

Summary The Addiction Neuroscience Laboratory at Florey Institute of Neuroscience and Mental Health. Our overarching research aim is to understand the brain mechanisms that drive drug and alcohol-seeking, and relapse to drug-seeking after a period of abstinence. We are also interested in the effects of chronic drug and alcohol intake on cognition and behaviour. Our lab employs a range of different behavioural and molecular techniques to investigate cellular and circuitry changes that occur as a result of exposure to drugs and alcohol, and how these changes may lead to the compulsive behaviour that is characteristic of addiction.

Project Details

Despite the major socioeconomic burden, alcohol use disorders (AUDs) remain a major health risk, and current medications are still inadequate to treat both relapse and heavy drinking. Our lab has recently shown muscarinic acetylcholine receptors (mAChR) and nicotinic acetylcholine receptors (nAChRs) undergo adaptations following chronic alcohol consumption in both humans and rodent brains. Further, using selective compounds we have recently confirmed the functional relevance of M4 and M5 mAChRs in regulating voluntary alcohol intake and relapse behaviour in rodents. Therefore, in this study we aim to:
1. Characterise the brain region specific molecular consequences of chronic intermittent alcohol intake on cholinergic receptor expression and function.
2. Examine in rats how brain region specific pharmacological manipulations of muscarinic and nicotinic receptors impact alcohol use / relapse.

This project will utilise a range of molecular and behavioural techniques including operant self-administration, rodent surgery, fluorescent in situ hybridisation, qPCR, microscopy and immunohistochemistry.

Research Opportunities

PhD students, Honours students, Master of Biomedical Science
Students who are interested in joining this project will need to consider their elegibility as well as other requirements before contacting the supervisor of this research

Graduate Research application

Honours application

Key Contact

For further information about this research, please contact a supervisor.

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