My thesis project in Dr. Craig Lindsley’s lab is centered on the development of novel small molecules for type II metabotropic glutamate receptors, and using these tools to better understand the underlying role of glutamate modulation in synaptic plasticity and neurodegeneration. Using a combination of medicinal chemistry and molecular pharmacology techniques, I hope to discover allosteric ligands for mGlu2 and mGlu3 which can be used as tools to probe the role individual roles of these receptors, which have been implicated as potential therapeutic targets in schizophrenia, addiction, depression, and Alzheimer’s disease.
Working with Dr. Peter Martin in Psychiatric Hospital gives me the opportunity to see patients with addictive disorders in the clinic, and to better understand the challenges in delivering effective therapies to this population. Working with Dr. Martin also provides insight into how behavioral modification and re-learning can incorporated into effective treatment of addictive disorders. Because the receptors I am targeting in my thesis project affect memory and learning formation, this experience allows me to better understand how compounds acting at this target could potentially be incorporated into the treatment of addiction at some point in the future.