Marquette researchers receive $1.9 million grant to study neuroscience of addiction, depression
Their project, entitled “Aversion signals in the reward system,” will examine how unpleasant experiences negatively impact people with underlying psychiatric disorders.
MILWAUKEE — Drs. Robert Wheeler and John Mantsch, faculty researchers in the Department of Biomedical Sciences in the College of Health Sciences at Marquette University, received a $1.9 million grant from the National Institutes of Health that will fund neuroscientific research into psychiatric disorders such as addiction and depression.
Their project, entitled “Aversion signals in the reward system,” will examine how unpleasant experiences negatively impact people with underlying psychiatric disorders, with the goal of developing innovative behavioral and pharmacological therapies aimed at managing them.
The research team has identified the presence of aversion signals in the nucleus accumbens, an area of the brain also known for processing pleasurable stimuli. Aversion signals in the nucleus accumbens are represented by a reduced concentration of a stress-sensitive neurotransmitter called dopamine. The researchers believe that, in people with underlying disorders, the dopamine response to stressful events triggers addiction and other harmful behaviors.
“Our purpose is to characterize how these signals are represented and how they change behavior,” said Mantsch, chair and professor of biomedical sciences. “We believe that decoding aversion signals will give us critical insight into both a fundamental aspect of the human condition and a range of stress-sensitive psychiatric disorders.”
“This is a highly collaborative research team that also includes the efforts of a third biomedical sciences faculty member, Dr. Matthew Hearing, in addition to Drs. Mantsch and Wheeler. It showcases the powerful impact of individual researchers contributing a unique expertise to a multidisciplinary neuroscience project,” said Dr. William E. Cullinan, dean of the College of Health Sciences and director of the Integrative Neuroscience Research Center. “Given the heavy competition for NIH funding, this award is a testament to the power of collaborative research among neuroscientists in Marquette’s College of Health Sciences.”
Mentioned in This Press Release
Recent Press Releases by Marquette University
The national award honors a nurse-midwifery professor who has shown outstanding qualities for teaching.
Enrollment now open for new Bachelor of Science in Strategic Communication
The gift will support student recipients in the College of Business Administration and those majoring in journalism.