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Susan Ferguson PhD

Assistant Professor
Phone: (206) 897-5801
Fax: (206) 897-5804

Site: Seattle Children's Hospital
Seattle Children's Reasearch Institute
1900 9th Avenue, Room R&T 313
Box 359300
Seattle, WA 98101
Link to CV

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The overall goal of my research program is to use a multi-level approach, combining molecular biology, anatomy and behavioral neuroscience, to understand the role of cortico-basal ganglia circuitry in the development of behaviors that are associated with drug reward and addiction, as well as in the processes that underlie decision-making, motivation and impulsivity. To accomplish these goals, my laboratory employs a novel virogenetic approach that uses viral vectors to express engineered artificial receptors (known as DREADD receptors) in discrete cell populations in rats. When activated by a synthetic ligand (clozapine-N-oxide), DREADD receptors will transiently alter neuronal activity of selected cell populations. This neuronal modulation can be paired with specific phases of behaviors (such as drug-induced locomotor sensitization, drug self-administration, and operant learning tasks) in order to parse out the neural circuitry that contributes to behaviors associated with addiction and other neuropsychiatric disorders.

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