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NameEmailPhD ProgramResearch InterestPublications
Girault, Jessica
WEBSITE
EMAIL
PUBLICATIONS

PHD PROGRAM
Neuroscience

RESEARCH INTEREST
Behavior, Brain Development, Genetics, Neurodevelopmental Disorders

We are a lab using state-of-the art neuroimaging techniques to study brain development and its links to emerging cognition and behavior in young infants and children. We study both typically developing infants and those at risk for neurodevelopmental disorders, including autism spectrum disorder. We are particularly interested in how family study designs can help us understand genetic influences on brain development.

Vetreno, Ryan

EMAIL
PUBLICATIONS

PHD PROGRAM
Neuroscience, Pharmacology

RESEARCH INTEREST
Addiction/Alcohol Research, Aging/Alzheimer's, Behavior, Biochemistry, Brain Development, Developmental Biology, Disease, Epigenetics & Chromatin Biology, Immunology, Microbiome, Molecular Biology, Molecular Mechanisms of Disease, Neurobiology, Neurodevelopmental Disorders, Neuropharmacology, Pathology, Pharmacology, Regenerative Medicine

My research interests involve investigation of proinflammatory neuroimmune and epigenetic mechanisms in animal models of developmental neurobiology and neurodegeneration, including (1) alcohol pharmacology, (2) alcohol responsivity and tolerance, (3) adolescent neurodevelopment, (4) cholinergic system and neurocircuitry, (5) microglial function, and (6) Alzheimer’s disease. A major focus of the laboratory is elucidation of neuroimmune and epigenetic mechanisms underlying adolescent binge alcohol-induced disruption of basal forebrain cholinergic neurocircuitry in adulthood. A second major focus of the laboratory is investigation of lasting adolescent binge drinking-induced neuroimmune priming as a novel etiological factor contributing to the onset and progression of basal forebrain neuropathology in Alzheimer’s disease. Our laboratory combines ex vivo and in vivo rodent models of alcohol abuse and Alzheimer’s disease with innovative molecular techniques.

Lorenz, Eva

EMAIL

PHD PROGRAM

RESEARCH INTEREST
Behavior, Neurobiology, Pharmacology

“I hope to elucidate specific neural pathways underlying drug dependence and developing potential pharmacological targets for alleviating dependence, withdrawal, relapse from drugs.”

Williams, Morika
WEBSITE
EMAIL
PUBLICATIONS

PHD PROGRAM
Neuroscience, Pathobiology & Translational Science

RESEARCH INTEREST
Behavior, Neurobiology, Pharmacology, Physiology, Translational Medicine

Early life and adult pain can have drastic effects on neurodevelopment and overall quality of life. In the Williams’ Pain, Aging, and Interdisciplinary Neurobehavioral (P.A.I.N.) Lab, our research focuses on behavioral neuroscience and the mechanisms of neurobiology and neurophysiology of pain processing, with a special emphasis on the neonatal. The ultimate research goal is to better understand, recognize, and alleviate pain in the newborn to improve the quality of life in adulthood by uncovering new assessment tools and interventional strategies. Our research interests include the mechanisms of neurobiology and neurophysiology of pain processing, neonatal pain, chronic pain, neurobehavior, osteoarthritis, translational medicine, anesthesia/analgesics, and evoked and non-evoked pain assessment tools. The P.A.I.N. Lab has both pre-clinical and clinical studies to help close the gap in translation.

Hantman, Adam

EMAIL
PUBLICATIONS

PHD PROGRAM
Cell Biology & Physiology, Neuroscience

RESEARCH INTEREST
Behavior, Neurobiology, Physiology

The Hantman Lab is interested in how functions emerge from network activity in the nervous system. Particularly, we study how the nervous system generates patterns of activity that control our bodies in the world. Our approach combines genetics, anatomy, physiology, perturbations, and a dynamical systems approach.

Christoffel, Dan
WEBSITE
EMAIL
PUBLICATIONS

PHD PROGRAM
Neuroscience

RESEARCH INTEREST
Behavior, Neurobiology, Physiology, Translational Medicine

Dr. Christoffel aims to understand how chronic exposure to particular stimuli (i.e. stress, food, drugs) alters the functioning of specific neural circuits and investigates the mechanisms that regulate these experience-dependent changes. Current studies focus on 1) how experience-dependent plasticity in the nucleus accumbens regulates reward processing, with a focus on the consumption of palatable foods and stress modulation of food intake, and 2) examine the regulatory role of neuromodulators in hedonic feeding.

The ultimate goal of the Christoffel Lab’s research is to understand how adaptive changes in brain function occur and how this can lead to the development of psychiatric disorders. We employ cutting-edge technologies to understand the complex interactions of multiple neural systems that allow us to adapt to our environment and regulate motivated behavior.

Jacox, Laura
WEBSITE
EMAIL
PUBLICATIONS

PHD PROGRAM
Oral & Craniofacial Biomedicine, Pathobiology & Translational Science

RESEARCH INTEREST
Behavior, Developmental Biology, Molecular Biology, Pathology, Translational Medicine

The Jacox Lab aims to improve patient care and outcomes in oral health. This goal takes shape via several tracks of interdisciplinary human studies:

-A primary focus of the lab has been on outcomes of jaw surgery patients, who suffer from Dentofacial Disharmonies (DFD). Patients with DFD have severe skeletal disproportions with underbites or open bites, necessitating orthodontics and jaw surgery for full correction. Roughly 80% of our patients with DFD exhibit speech distortions, compared to 5% of the general population, which negatively impact their self-confidence and quality of life. Despite patients pursuing invasive surgery, it is unknown whether jaw surgery is palliative for articulation errors. We are using ultrasound, audio and video imaging to explore the mechanism of articulation errors among patients with DFD. Furthermore, our lab is conducting a longitudinal study of DFD patients to determine if jaw surgery improves speech distortions, in collaboration with oral surgeons, linguistics and speech pathology.

-An additional focus of our lab has been studying use of Animal Assisted Therapy for management of anxiety and pain in dentistry. Dental anxiety effects 21-50% of patients and is associated with poor long-term oral health outcomes and need for urgent care due to dental avoidance. Non-pharmacological behavior interventions like dog therapy holds promise for reducing pain and anxiety perception for patients, and therefore improving dental experiences and promoting improved health outcomes. The lab is conducting a randomized controlled trial to evaluate best practices for canine therapy in pediatric dentistry, in collaboration with pediatric dentists, a psychology professor whose expertise is anxiety, and the UNC Biobehavioral Lab.

-As part of the COVID-19 research response, we are studying FDA-approved antiseptic mouth rinses for their ability to limit salivary viral infectivity to reduce risk of SARS-CoV-2 transmission. If an oral rinse is found to be efficacious at inactivating the SARS-CoV-2 virus, it could be a valuable preventative measure in settings where masks are removed, such as dental care, social settings, eating out, or work presentations. This study is conducted in collaboration with leading virologists and infectious disease experts at UNC.

Walsh, Jessica
WEBSITE
EMAIL
PUBLICATIONS

PHD PROGRAM
Neuroscience, Pharmacology

RESEARCH INTEREST
Behavior, Neurobiology, Pharmacology, Physiology, Translational Medicine

Social behavior is composed of a variety of distinct forms of interactions and is fundamental to survival. Several neural circuits must act in concert to allow for such complex behavior to occur and perturbations, either genetic and/or environmental, underlie many psychiatric and neurodevelopment disorders. The Walsh lab focuses on gaining an improved understanding of the biological basis of behavior using a multi-level approach to elucidate the molecular and circuit mechanisms underlying motivated social behavior. The goal of our research is to uncover how neural systems govern social interactions and what alterations occur in disease states to inform the development of novel therapeutics or treatment strategies.

One of the major focuses of the Walsh lab is on understanding how genetic mutations, as well as experience, lead to circuit adaptations that govern impaired behavior seen in mouse models of autism spectrum disorders (ASD). Our systems level analysis includes: 1) modeling these disorders with well described genetic markers, 2) defining causal relationships between activity within discrete anatomical structures in the brain that are critical to the physiology of the symptom under investigation (e.g. sociability), 3) performing deep characterization of the physiological profiles of these circuits and using that information to target specific receptors or molecules that may not have been considered for the treatment of specific ASD symptoms.

Pegard, Nicolas
WEBSITE
EMAIL
PUBLICATIONS

PHD PROGRAM
Applied Physical Sciences, Neuroscience

RESEARCH INTEREST
Behavior, Cell Biology, Molecular Biology, Neurobiology

Our lab develops computer-driven optical instrumentation for applications in biology and neurosciences, beyond traditional imaging systems. Our research is interdisciplinary and welcomes backgrounds in optical engineering, computer sciences, biology or neurosciences. Our primary goal is to develop optical brain-machine interfaces and other technologies that use advanced light sources and detectors to probe and manipulate cellular functions deep into tissue at depths where traditional microscopy tools can no longer retrieve images.

Coleman, Leon
WEBSITE
EMAIL
PUBLICATIONS

PHD PROGRAM
Neuroscience, Pharmacology

RESEARCH INTEREST
Behavior, Cancer Biology, Cell Signaling, Drug Discovery, Immunology, Molecular Biology, Neurobiology, Pharmacology, Translational Medicine

The overriding goal of Dr. Coleman’s work is to identify novel treatments for alcohol use disorders (AUD) and associated peripheral disease pathologies. Currently, this includes: the role of neuroimmune Signaling in AUD pathology, the role of alcohol-associated immune dysfunction in associated disease states, and novel molecular and subcellular mediators of immune dysfunction such as extracellular vesicles, and regenerative medicine approaches such as microglial repopulation.