Dissecting Neuromodulatory Circuits and Signaling in Affective Behavior

Speaker Details:

Michael Bruchas
UW / Department of Anesthesiology and Pharmacology

Lecture Details:

February 14, 2019
12:30 p.m.
Professor, PhD


Stress and affective behaviors are largely controlled by specific neurotransmitters and their receptors in the central nervous system. Many of these signals are conveyed through activation of both neuropeptide (i.e. CRF and Opioid) and monoamine (norepinephrine, dopamine, serotonin) receptor systems. These receptors are seven transmembrane spanning G-protein coupled receptors (GPCR) and they can stimulate a variety of signaling cascades following neurotransmitter/neuropeptide release. The Bruchas laboratory uses a multimodal effort to uncover GPCR-mediated neuromodulation from the receptor, signaling, circuits, and systems level analysis. Here I will describe two recent developments in the laboratory. Neurobiological studies of neuropeptides in motivation and technology development for dissecting neuromodulation in vivo. I will also briefly discuss recent advances in optogenetic technology including development of opto-GPCRs and implementation of wireless devices for in vivo behavioral measures. I focus on presenting unpublished data of a novel brain region subnuclei containing a relatively novel neuropeptide and its cognate GPCR in the peri- ventral tegmental area (dopamine system) that act to gate motivated behavior. We find that chemogenetic and optical control of this neuropeptide-GPCR system results in altered motivation, reward and aversion behavior. We also identify a critical corresponding VTA opioid GPCR system that mediates this neuropeptide’s effects on motivation. In sum, I will highlight some recent biological advances from our laboratory that dissect the role of GPCR-mediate neuromodulation in motivated behavior as well as feature some new technology development associated with these long term efforts.

Speaker Bio:

Michael received his BS in biology and his PhD in pharmacology from Creighton University in 2004 and a postdoctoral fellowship in neuroscience at the University of Washington, where he examined how endogenous opioids impact stress, depression, and addiction. Dr. Bruchas’s laboratory focuses on how brain circuits are wired, how they communicate via neuromodulation, and to develop new neuroscience tools. His laboratory’s discoveries have been published in Science, Cell, and Neuron and have been featured on Public Radio, in The Wall Street Journal, Nature, The New Yorker, The Smithsonian, and Popular Science. He has awards including the NIH Director’s Transformative Research Award, an NIH EUREKA Award, the Young Investigator Award from the International Narcotics Research Conference, and NIH BRAIN Initiatives for tool development in dissecting brain circuits. In 2018, he was awarded the NIH-MERIT award from NIDA, the Rising Star Award from the Mahoney Institute of Neuroscience, and the SfN – Jacob P. Waletzky Memorial Award for cutting-edge research in addiction. Dr. Bruchas is also co-founder of a neurotechnology company Neurolux. Dr. Bruchas resides with his wife and daughter in Fremont (Seattle) and loves travel, food, craft beer and wine, all types of music, books, the outdoors, and cycling.

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