Leandro F. Vendruscolo

The Scripps Research Institute, USA

I graduated with a degree in Pharmacy in 2000 from a prominent university in Brazil (Federal University of Santa Catarina [UFSC]). I received my M.S. degree in Pharmacology from the same institution and my Ph.D. from a Brazil/France transnational program (UFSC and University of Bordeaux 2). My mentors during my Ph.D. were Drs. Reinaldo N. Takahashi (UFSC), André Ramos (UFSC) and Pierre Mormède (University of Bordeaux 2). After obtaining my Ph.D., I returned to France for 2 years for postdoctoral training in the Neuropsychopharmacology of Addictive Disorders Laboratory at University of Bordeaux 2 (mentor: Dr. Martine Cador). Currently, I am a Senior Research Associate in the laboratory of Dr. George F. Koob at The Scripps Research Institute (TSRI). My research focus is centered on biobehavioral mechanisms underlying dysregulated motivational symptoms linked to drug dependence, with an emphasis in alcohol dependence. More specifically, I have been studying the role of the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal [HPA] axis and extrahipothalamic stress systems on alcohol dependence. We have discovered that alcohol dependence is associated with altered HPA axis function and that glucocorticoid receptors in reward/stress-related brain regions play a functional role in compulsive alcohol drinking during both acute alcohol withdrawal and protracted abstinence in dependent rats. These investigations employ highly valid animal models that highlight the importance of individual differences at the molecular level in the propensity to develop drug addiction. A better understanding of the altered neural mechanisms associated with addicted states, along with the investigation of how novel anti-dependence medications might correct this altered neuroplasticity, will lead to a continuing refinement of animal models as well as provide novel and more efficacious therapeutic targets.

Biography Updated on 23 February 2013

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