Vice President for Research
Associate Professor of Pharmacology
Ph.D., University of Catania (Italy)
cannabinoid, anandamide, dopamine, Parkinson disease, schizophrenia, dyskinesias
My laboratory is interested in the role played by the endocannabinoid system in regulating psychomotor functions. The endocannabinoids are a family of naturally occurring lipids that mimic the effects of marijuana by stimulating specific receptors (cannabinoid receptors) epressed in the brain areas that are critical for the regulation of motor behaviors, such as the basal ganglia. In addition, the endocannabinoids may serve as an inhibitory feedback signal to counteract dopamine-induced motor activation. Our studies indicate that the endocannabinoid system represents a new pharmacological target for the treatment of diseases characterized by dysregulation of dopamine transmission, such as Parkinson's disease and schizophrenia.
We integrate neurochemistry and behavioral pharmacology to study endocannabinoid transmission in animal models of neurological and psychiatric disorders including Parkinson's disease, essential tremor, and schizophrenia. Our laboratory also investigates the therapeutic effects of cannabinoid-based drugs on levodoopa-induced dyskinesias, a disabling motor complication experienced by Parkinsonian patients undergoing long-term treatment with levodopa.
Accomplishments, Awards and Honors
AAAS Fellow in Science and Technology Policy, NIH Office of Science Policy - Sep 2011-Aug 2012
NIH RO1 (NIMH) "Endocannabinoid Transmission in Schizophrenia" - June 2011-March 2016
Appointments, Boards, Committees and Memberships
Vice President for Research - April 2015
Director of Biomedical Research Development - UTHSCSA Office of the VP for Research - Oct. 2012
Lectures, Posters and Presentations
'The ABC’s of the endocannabinoid system' - Child Neurology Society 43rd Annual Meeting, Columbus OH. - October 2014
'Endocannabinoid-enhancing drugs reverse social withdrawal in the PCP rat model of schizophrenia' - 4th Schizophrenia International Research Society Conference, Florence, Italy - April, 2014
'Endocannabinoid Transmission: Role in Neurodegeneration and Schizophrenia' - 8th IBRO World Congress of Neuroscience, Florence, Italy - July, 2011