Lisa R. Gerak
Assistant Research Professor
Ph.D., Louisiana State University
Benzodiazepines, neuroactive steroids, drug discrimination, dependence, withdrawal
Current research projects include studies on the behavioral pharmacology of compounds that modulate the γ-aminobutyric acid A (GABAA) receptor complex with an emphasis on the effects of ethanol and neuroactive steroids. GABAA modulators can vary in efficacy and selectivity for the various modulatory sites on the GABAA receptor complex as well as for different subtypes of GABAA receptors. Differences in the behavioral effects of GABAA modulators are assessed using procedures that examine acute (discriminative stimulus effects) and chronic (tolerance, dependence, withdrawal) effects of drugs. The general goals of this research program are: to develop quantitative methods for assessing the effects of chronic treatment with GABAA modulators; to evaluate fundamental differences in the behavioral effects of drugs that act at different modulatory sites on GABAA receptors; to understand dependence-induced changes in GABAA receptor function; to determine whether novel GABAA modulators might be useful pharmacotherapies for ethanol abuse; and to assess the applicability of receptor theory for interpreting behavioral effects of GABAA modulators.