Skip to main content

Nick Harris, BS

MD PhD Student, Winder laboratory, Molecular Physiology & Biophysics

Drug dependent patients trying to maintain abstinence often relapse to their chosen of drug of abuse, with many citing stress as an antecedent to use and a lack of effective treatment to control the urge to use. Guanfacine is an α2A-adrenergic receptor agonist that targets receptors for the brain stress neurotransmitter norepinephrine and has been used in both preclinical and clinical trials for addiction, often showing positive results such as reduced craving but not producing changes in ultimate rates of relapse. We hypothesize that the ineffectiveness on relapse is due to competition among the myriad effects of this drug and aim to study a non-canonical neuronal activating effect in the bed nucleus of the stria terminalis, an area of the brain known to be implicated in both stress and addiction disorders, through the complementary use of whole cell electrophysiology and neuroanatomical methods in the hopes that uncovering the mechanism underlying this effect will aid in future treatment of patients dependent on drugs of abuse.