Behavioral genetics of addiction model traits.

What We Do

Substance abuse disorders are heritable psychiatric conditions whose genetic basis remains largely unknown. Mammalian model organisms offer a powerful, complementary tool for accelerating the discovery of novel genetic factors and neurobiological mechanisms in humans. The Laboratory of Addiction Genetics integrates classical forward genetics in mice with contemporary genome editing and -omics approaches to understanding the mechanisms that confer susceptibility versus resistance toward substance use disorders. We are committed to the development and refinement of behavioral models across multiple misused substances that most directly gauge the contribution of natural genetic variation to behavior and bridging these discoveries with –omics and molecular genetics to validate candidate genes, functional variants and neurobiological mechanisms. This multi-pronged approach leverages our ability to make discoveries that could translate to new pharmacotherapeutic avenues for treatment and prevention.

Current Projects


Evaluating kappa opioid receptor antagonists as potential agents for alleviating hyperirritability associated with Neonatal Opioid Withdrawal Syndrome (NOWS).


Validating transcription factor gene Zhx2 as a quantitative trait gene regulating oxycodone metabolism and oxycodone addiction behaviors.

Rat Substrains

Uses a reduced complexity cross (RCC) in two inbred substrains of SHR rats to uncover candidate genes and variants related and relevant to cocaine use disorders.