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Kellie Williford

Department: Neuroscience

Faculty Mentor: Danny Winder, Ph.D.

Dissertation Description: The Role of Stress Responses in Addiction

One in seven Americans age 12 and older struggle with a substance abuse disorder. Addiction is a chronic disease characterized by a cycle of use, withdrawal, and relapse, and the most cited cause of relapse is stress. The Winder lab studies this intersection between stress and relapse, with a particular focus on the Bed Nucleus of the Stria Terminalis (BNST). The BNST is a subcortical region known for mediating stress responses. My project looks at both the function of a subpopulation of neurons which begins co-expressing corticotropin-releasing factor (CRF) and Protein Kinase C-delta (PKCd) only after stress, and the role of astrocytes in mediating BNST signaling.