Wendy Lynch, PhD, an associate professor in the Department of Psychiatry and Neurobehavioral Sciences, was awarded a $2.5 million R01 grant from the NIH to study substance use disorder (SUD) and its particularly severe impact for women. The telescoping effect wherein women meet criteria for SUD and/or seek treatment after fewer years of drug use as compared to men is one striking example of how women are impacted.
Using a novel rat model of the telescoping effect, Dr. Lynch’s goals for this study are to characterize molecular shifts that underlie the telescoping effect with cocaine, and to determine whether, similar to humans, the telescoping effect also occurs with opioids.
For the study, Dr. Lynch will use a combination of state-of-the-art behavioral and molecular techniques including cutting edge behavioral procedures, site-specific receptor manipulation, site-specific neuromodulation, and RNA-seq/qPCR for gene expression analysis, and ChIP-seq to measure epigenetic change. The study will provide entirely novel information of the mechanism underlying the telescoping effect and identify possible targets to prevent its occurrence in women.