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EDUCATION

1988 Université Pierre et Marie Curie (Paris, France) B.A., Neurophysiology
1989 Université Pierre et Marie Curie (Paris, France) M.A., Neurobiology
1993 Université Pierre et Marie Curie (Paris, France) Ph.D., Neurobiology

PROFESSIONAL APPOINTMENTS

1993 – 1995Postdoctoral Research Associate
The Max-Planck Institute, Munich, Germany

1995 – 2001Postdoctoral Research Associate
Department of Neuropharmacology
The Scripps Research Institute, San Diego, CA

2001-2012 Research Assistant Professor
Department of Psychiatry
The Brudnick Neuropsychiatric Research Institute
University of Massachusetts Medical School, Worcester, MA

2012-present Assistant Professor
Department of Neurobiology
The Brudnick Neuropsychiatric Research Institute
University of Massachusetts Medical School, Worcester, MA

RESEARCH

The hallmark of all drugs of abuse, including alcohol, is their powerful addictive properties that linger for years after the last drug intake. It has been proposed that addiction and relapse may both result from altered mnemonic processes caused by changes in the strength of synaptic communication between nerve cells, the main objective of my research.

Drugs of abuse and synaptic plasticity

Our main focus is to understand how early alcohol exposure (i.e. binge alcohol drinking) alters the way neurons and interneurons from the nucleus accumbens, a brain region responsible for alcohol rewarding properties, process information relevant to addiction.

We currently have two ongoing projects.

1-The first project focuses on the role played by nucleus accumbens cholinergic interneurons in mediating the effects of binge alcohol drinking on accumbens medium spiny neurons synaptic transmission.

2- The second project seeks to understand how nucleus accumbens medium spiny neurons, the only output neurons driving alcohol-related behavior, compute simultaneously emotional and cognitive information from the prelimbic cortical and basolateral amygdala regions in alcohol-naïve and binge alcohol drinking mice.

Techniques employed

To probe these questions at the cellular and behavioral levels, we combine a variety of techniques ranging from in vitro electrophysiological patch-clamp recording techniques in fresh slices of tissue, in vitro and in vivo optogenetic technique, behavioral assays, and in vivo imaging techniques.

 

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  • Optogenetics